Skip Nav
ben higgins
I Stayed in The Bachelor Fantasy Suite, and This Is What Happened
The Story Behind This Viral "First Kiss" Video Will Bring You to Tears
7 Feminist Moments From GOT Season 7 That Will Make You Damn Proud to Be a Woman

Rapper Makes Swindling Record Company Fund Her PhD

"This is a story that needs to be told. I'm an example that you can be a teenage mom, come from the projects, and be raised by a single parent, and you can still come out of it a doctor."

Stories about record companies screwing musicians out of royalties are standard news, but Roxanne Shante's struggle with her former label has a happy ending.

In 1984 at age 14, Shante had a hit called “Roxanne’s Revenge,” a response to UTFO’s hit “Roxanne, Roxanne.” Considered hip hop’s first female celeb, Shante came before Lil’ Kim, Salt-N-Pepa and Queen Latifah, but did not get as big as they did, and in addition, shady record contracts meant she saw few royalties.

Instead of despairing or giving up, 19-year-old Shante remembered a clause in her Warner Music record contract: the company offered to pay for her education for life. Although she struggled to get them to hold up their end of the deal (Shante figures it was a clause they probably threw in never thinking a teenage mother from the projects would care about education), they finally relented. $217,000 later, she got her PhD in psychology from Cornell in 2001. Shante, now 38, focuses her therapy practice on urban African-Americans who tend to balk at seeking mental health help.

In addition to being a therapist, she offers $5,000 college scholarships each semester to female rappers and gives advice to aspiring female musicians on her MySpace page. Roxanne’s revenge, indeed!

Join The Conversation
number6_ed number6_ed 7 years
Also, if you are trying to use that sentiment to show that they were trying to swindle her, that won't work either. That was just her belief, it is not something that the company ever said.
number6_ed number6_ed 7 years
Are you serious? That's just not good enough. Don't write something in a legally binding document you don't intend to make good on.
HoneyBrown1976 HoneyBrown1976 7 years
The negativity is based on jealousy and low self-esteem. When you feel the need to exhibit negativity where it's not warranted, you implicitly give others a negative view of yourself. That being said, I'm happy for her. But, this isn't news. Tressugar keep up!
Meike Meike 7 years
"Oh yeah, might I add that according to this article that the record company offered to pay for her education for life - she didn't swindle that out of them. So um, yeah, blame the record company, not her. They shouldn't have offered in the first place." Indeed, my thoughts exactly. It was in the contract. Therefore, there was no such swindle on either side. I also didn't realize that obtaining your education and then using it to help other individuals was considered "selfish".
em1282 em1282 7 years
Good for her!
soapybub soapybub 7 years
Yeah, the negativity on here is just pointless. I don't think she pushed anyone down in order for her to succeed. They promised her the money and she took it. If it's anyone's fault, it's the record company for not hiring lawyers to look at their own contract/ give good advice about the promises it made, because no good lawyer would say 'yeah, put that on there, she's never going to take you up on it." They simply underestimated their client. You can't promise education and then take it away. I think that this was an f-ing awesome story. I hope she succeeds in reaching out to her target audience for her practice.
khameel khameel 7 years
Well said, mkls6044! I completely agree. It's a wonderful thing that she decided to pursue and education and do something positive with her degree.
mkls6044 mkls6044 7 years
It makes me sad to see all the negativity on here. Honestly, I think people sometimes just want to write something negative about all the posts, instead of recognizing the truly inspiring ones when they come along. Shouldnt we be thrilled that this woman, regardless of who she is, not only got a PhD but is now giving back to her community? Her specialty is admirable too- it is so true that many African Americans dont seek counseling and for people to have someone to relate to and help them is truly great. It is ridiculous to call her selfish. And, by the way, she DID read her contract- hence using the education clause! A truly inspirational story.
simplyfab87 simplyfab87 7 years
Is she is not a role model then I don't know what is. How many people from the ghetto go to an Ivy League university? The record company took advantage of her when she was in her early teens and then she got back a small portion of what she deserved. And the record company got away easy with $200,000. I went to Cornell and that was tuition was just four years of undergrad. They got a good deal.
dani17731 dani17731 7 years
I don't get all the negativity either, number6_ed. She was 14 when she came out and was probably even younger when all the contracts were signed. It was up to her parents to look at the contracts, and come on people, the average person in the 'hood can't understand all that "legalese". And if she was 19, how did she "later decide that the company screwed her"? 19 is the age at which you will start/be in college.
number6_ed number6_ed 7 years
"I dont think this is a "woman power" story, She didnt read her contract, and then later decided that making the company that "screwed" her (they didnt) pay up on their agreement, I think they should hold up thier end and pay some of her education, but cmon...for "life" to pay out 200,000 plus? thats a bit much, and frankly its selfish and shouldnt be anyones idea of role model behavior." She was 14 when she signed her contract, and at 14 she was too young to go to college. She took advantage of the clause just one short year after it would actually be eligible to her. How is that being selfish? The company wrote the clause (and it was their idea to put in paying her education "for life," not Shante, so I don't understand how anyone could be mad at her. While it is true that she wasn't swindled (it is not the record company's fault if people just weren't feeling her music), I don't really get the negativity.
swiftchick swiftchick 7 years
There's a reason that you legally become an adult at age 18. Even if she was signing contracts (or someone was signing for her), I doubt that she was making adult decisions at the age of 14 whether she read every word or not. She was able to take a bad situation that she got into and turn it around. There are so many stories about women in music who were exploited for their talent and paid nothing. This was especially true for early girl groups. I'm glad that this woman was able to use what was offered to make her life and the lives of others better.
hiptobesquare hiptobesquare 7 years
Yeah, she should have read her contract, but she was also smart in taking advantage of it; Now she can do what she wants and help people, and that's great.
Yogaforlife Yogaforlife 7 years
I have to say...when I was really little, my brother had that UTFO cassette tape and I loved that song "Roxanne Roxanne".
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 7 years
I dont think this is a "woman power" story, She didnt read her contract, and then later decided that making the company that "screwed" her (they didnt) pay up on their agreement, I think they should hold up thier end and pay some of her education, but cmon...for "life" to pay out 200,000 plus? thats a bit much, and frankly its selfish and shouldnt be anyones idea of role model behavior.
efsarbaby efsarbaby 7 years
i'm glad someone is around to defend corporate interests, romantique. i worry about them sometimes.
le-romantique le-romantique 7 years
Don't blame the labels. it's not their fault artists can't read contracts or are smart enough to hire lawyers do it for them... Maybe she should have remembered about the clause sooner. At that time labels were creating contracts left and right. I can't stand artists sometimes.But whatever the public loves success stories of the underdog taking down the man.
Beauty Beauty 7 years
Cool story! Good for her for remembering that little clause.
Why You Shouldn't Stop Reading to Big Kids
Bunmi Laditan Post About Being Done With Homework
Lottery Horror Stories
Should I Send My Kids to Boarding School?
From Our Partners
Latest Love
All the Latest From Ryan Reynolds