Roxanne Shante Responds to Accusations, Sort Of
The New York Daily News recently reported that '80s rapper Roxanne Shante had forced her former record label, Warner Music, to finance her education, including a degree from Marymount Manhattan College and a Ph.D. in psychology from Cornell University. The story made the rounds and warmed hearts; hip-hop had beaten the machine. Shante, with a successful therapy practice, offered $5,000 college scholarships to female rappers and Russell Simmons approved.
Then an article on Slate.com debunked Shante's inspiring story. According to Slate writer Ben Sheffner, neither Cornell nor Marymount Manhattan have a record of Shante (or Lolita Shante Gooden, her birth name) graduating from their respective institutions. According to Marymount, she had attended classes for several months in 2005, then dropped out.
Shante was unable to "substantiate" her claims to Sheffner, explaining that she had attended school under an alias, citing a "domestic violence situation" as the reason for the "computer error." The article continued to point out that "According to Warner, neither it nor any of its subsidiary record labels ever had a contract with Shante, and it was not obligated to pay for her education."
Hip-hop writers Wayne Marshall and Jeff Chang (author of 'Can't Stop, Won't Stop') shot back at Sheffner's expose, arguing that "If a rapper claims to be a killer, no one cares. If she says she has an education, they send in an investigative reporter, or at least someone who purports to be."
They also point out that Sheffner is an entertainment lawyer, currently employed by NBC, previously employed by Warner, therefore not the most objective "former journalist" to pen such an expose. Marshall and Chang continued to argue (read their article here) that Shante didn't claim to have received her Ph.D., but her B.A. and M.A., and that Warner had admitted that her label Cold Chilln's agreement regarding her education could never be reviewed, because the files were lost in a flood.
Though Roxanne Shante has been notably silent about the situation, she gave a short response to Lemondrop.com, saying "I'm just gonna let it go...What he's trying to do is trying to get himself known, to get the popular sites to read after him. This is not a $5 billion Ponzi scheme. What would make someone go so hard and heavy at that?"
We may never know the extent of Shante's education, nor who financed it, but we think that there are more deserving targets than Roxanne Shante's hip-hop hard luck story. After all, we don't see anyone going after pop starlet Aubrey O'Day for claiming she "met and worked with" Fidel Castro.