Hip-hop legend Roxanne Shanté to visit VCU

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect an event schedule change. The event has been rescheduled from Tuesday, March 14 to Thursday, March 16. Location and time details have been updated below.

Roxanne Shanté, a hip-hop icon and subject of the upcoming biopic “Roxanne Roxanne,” will speak at Virginia Commonwealth University as part of VCU’s celebration of Women’s History Month.

Shanté will speak at 4 p.m. on Thursday, March 16 in Common Ground in the Student Commons. The event will be free and open to the public.

Roxanne Shanté.
Roxanne Shanté.

“Roxanne Shanté is a hip-hop legend. As a heavyweight female emcee, she helped shape the culture of hip-hop as we know,” said Yolanda Avent, director of VCU’s Office of Multicultural Student Affairs. “She will be discussing her journey through the music industry and what she learned along the way. Her legendary battle raps during a time when hip-hop was primarily male dominated are nothing short of amazing. We look forward to her insight and thoughts on the current state of hip-hop.”

Shanté began rapping at age 13. After a chance meeting with promoters Tyrone Williams, DJ Mister Magic and producer Marley Marl, she recorded “Roxanne’s Revenge.” The song was a response to the UTFO’s song, “Roxanne, Roxanne,” and spawned 102 additional answer records, a series of hip-hop rivalries which collectively became known Roxanne Wars.

By age 25, Shanté was largely retired from the recording industry, though she continued to make occasional guest appearances and live performances, as well as mentor young female hip-hop artists. She returned to performing, and in 2008, her song “Roxanne’s Revenge” was ranked No. 42 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Hip Hop Songs.

Her life story is the subject of the forthcoming hip-hop biopic, “Roxanne Roxanne,” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January and is co-produced by Forest Whitaker and Pharrell Williams. The film received critical acclaim and will be released later this year.

According to Variety’s review: “The heroine of ‘Precious’ dreamed of becoming a star. In ‘Roxanne Roxanne,’ the heroine becomes a star — and remains nearly as trapped in the prison of her life as the heroine of ‘Precious.’ Yet there’s a redemption: She will do anything short of selling her soul to keep her child, and in the end, when she does, she finds her life. You can’t really say that ‘Roxanne Roxanne’ is ‘an exhilarating hip-hop fable.’ But it’s a vivid and unusually honest drama about the pain and bravado that were the fuel of hip-hop. Now more than ever, there should be a market for a movie about growing up in an American hell and coming out the other side, through the gift of the word.”

Shanté’s talk will be followed by a reception in the VCU Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, suite 215 in University Student Commons, 907 Floyd Ave.

Her visit to VCU is sponsored by Girls for a Change local chapter Camp Diva, VCU’s Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, School of the Arts, and the Department of African American Studies in the College of Humanities and Sciences, as well as the Epsilon Zeta Chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.


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