If you're someone who can't look away when it comes to beef in the world of hip hop and rap, then you have Lolita Gooden to thank. In the early 80s, the 14-year-old was an aspiring rapper from Queens who found herself hurdled into fame after she assumed the persona of Roxanne Shanté, rapping the response to UTFO's Roxanne Roxanne in Marley Marl's track Roxanne's Revenge. The original UTFO song was about a girl who had rejected their advances, but Shanté turned that on its head when, in the response, she accused the group of being sleazy, and said they had come onto her multiple times, and each time she turned them down. It went like this:
This brutal clapback was entirely off the top of Shanté's head, allegedly between laundry cycles in Marley Marl's apartment. The track sold of 250,000 copies and kicked off one of the first ever prominent rap feuds. UTFO retaliated with another track, and eventually everyone wanted in on the Roxanne vs. UTFO action.
The new Netflix movie, Roxanne Roxanne, details this time in the young woman's life, from her rise to the top to the harsh repercussions of fame. The first official trailer dropped today on People, and it's easy to see why the part of Shanté, played by Chanté Adams, earned the actress the Sundance Film Festival's Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Performance.
The film also stars Moonlight's Mahershala Ali and Nia Long, with Notorious' Kevin Phillips as Marl.
This story is the precursor to notable beefs like that between Jay Z and Nas, as well as Remy Ma and Nicki Minaj — although Remy Ma recently advocated for female rappers to stick together.
"There’s strength in numbers," she told Variety. "So If I’m doing good, and this girl here is doing good, people will take it more seriously...We all bring something different to the table, and once people realize that, stop fighting each other, work together and help build each other up, we’ll grow even more."
Roxanne Roxanne finally shines a light on the young girl who can easily be credited as the catalyst for one of hip hop's biggest trends, and whose life was a constant balancing act of pursuing her art while protecting her family in light of her difficult childhood. Watch it when it hits Netflix March 23.
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