In 1984, a 15-year-old Queens rapper named Lolita Shanté Gooden took on the rap name Roxanne Shanté and released the single “Roxanne’s Revenge.” The song, an answer to rap group U.T.F.O.’s B-side “Roxanne, Roxanne” was produced by Queens pioneer Marley Marl, and it was about as stark and fearless as early dis records ever were. “Roxanne’s Revenge” was an early rap hit, and Shanté was one of the first female rappers to score one, as well as the first to become a feared battle-rap monster — and all this happened before Shanté was old enough to drive. That’s a hell of a story, and that story is now a movie.
Director Michael Larnell’s biopic Roxanne Roxanne tells the story of Shanté’s early life, and it’s got a hell of a pedigree. Chanté Adams, who plays Shanté, is a new face, but the movie also features Nia Long and Moonlight Oscar winner Mahershala Ali. The movie screened at Sundance last year, and Pharrell Williams and Forrest Whitaker are among its producers. RZA is responsible for the score.
Roxanne Roxanne is coming to Netflix next month, and the streaming service has just shared the first trailer. Judging by what we can see, the movie looks a little light on music and a little heavy on intense family dynamics. But that’s also true of a lot of the best biopics. Check it out below.
Roxanne Roxanne is streaming on Netflix 3/23.