Many people give Roxanne Shante the honor of being the first female rapper which is not true, that honor actually belongs to Sha Rock. In 1976, in the beginning of hip-hop, Sha Rock would go to DJ Kool Herc's parties and get on the mic, solidifying her stance as the first female rapper or MC. However, Roxanne Shante, at the tender age of 14, still holds the record as the youngest female rapper. She's also the inventor of the "diss" record that started a war, later dubbed The Roxanne Wars.
At the age of 14, she began her hip-hop career when she walked out of her Queens housing project and overheard three men talking about how they had to cancel the UTFO show. UTFO (Untouchable Force Organization) had had a popular jam, "Roxanne, Roxanne" about a girl that wouldn't give them the time of day.
Shante freestyled as the main character of that hit song for the three men who turned out to be radio DJ Mister Magic, hip-hop pioneer Marley Marl, and Tyrone Williams. Her freestyle became her first hit "Roxanne's Revenge" which sold over 250,000 copies in New York alone and sparked what would later become known as The Roxanne Wars with 100 answer records at last count.
One of the more prominent answer records (this is how hip-hop used to be back in the day and the invention of what we now call "beef"- one group or MC would "diss" or disrespect another MC from a rival rap group and then, the MC that was "dissed" would answer back by trying to outdiss the first MC- confused?) was 1986's "The Real Roxanne" performed by UTFO and Adelaida Martinez, who would later use the song's title as her stage name.
UTFO also answered Shante in the courthouse by suing her for using their B Side ("Roxanne's Backside) as the rhythm track, forcing Marley Marl to redo the production on "Roxanne's Revenge".
"Sparky's Turn (Roxanne, You're Through)" by Sparky D, a feisty woman who criticizes Roxanne (Shanté, in particular) for being disrespectful toward UTFO, and being too young, both for them to pursue, and to be an MC. Even though the record defended UTFO, they were reported to not be appreciative of this additional unauthorized response. It was after this that the saga really took off.
"Roxanne's Doctor - The Real Man" by Dr. Freshh, who also insulted Roxanne as having no class.
"Do the Roxanne" by Dr. Rocx & Co., which created a dance based on Roxanne. (Referred to Shanté's cracky wacky voice, as Sparky D had described it in her record). A rare instance of a record in the series not aimed at dissing someone.
"The Parents of Roxanne" by Gigolo Tony & Lacey Lace, which answered both UTFO and Sparky D. It drew references from both "Roxanne's Revenge" and "The Real Roxanne" as if both represented the true Roxanne.
"Yo, My Little Sister (Roxanne's Brothers)" by Crush Groove (no relation to Krush Groove), which answered UTFO, Sparky D, and Dr. Freshh.
"Rappin' Roxy: Roxanne's Sister" by D.W. and the Party Crew featuring Roxy .
Another record answered Roxanne Shanté by a young woman calling herself "Little Ice," who told her to "make up her mind" if she wanted a man or not.
"Roxanne's a Man (The Untold Story — Final Chapter)" by Ralph Rolle, which claimed that Roxanne was actually a man who had been sodomized in prison, and then having "lost his manhood" turned himself into a woman after his release; and insulted UTFO for not realizing this.
She also released "Big Mama" in 1992, shortly before she quit the rap game, which dissed fellow female flowologists Queen Latifah, Monie Love, MC Lyte and YoYo. These "diss" records along wih her amazing freestyle helped to cement her as one of hip-hop's early female pioneers, even if it meant taking 100 hits to her rep, her sexuality and her family's name.
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