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First Queen of Hip Hop Makes Label Pay for Her College Education

First Queen of Hip Hop Makes Label Pay for Her College Education

Published August 27, 2009

Years after retiring from the stage, the first queen of hip hop has cashed in on royalties to pay for an Ivy League Ph.D. 

Dr. Roxanne Shante, the '80s rap icon who scored the smash hit, "Roxanne's Revenge" in 1984, at the age of 14, now holds a doctorate in psychology and is a therapist focused on African-American issues.

Born Lolita Gooden, Shante’s rap career was launched with her hit song, which was a response to the rap group UTFO's mega-hit, "Roxanne, Roxanne." Shante was suddenly the first female rap star when her single quickly sold 250,000 copies in her native New York City alone.

The rapper now says that she was swindled by her record company and left the industry when she became disillusioned by the music industry.

"Everybody was cheating with the contracts, stealing and telling lies," she told the New York Daily News. "And to find out that I was just a commodity was heartbreaking."

But Shante remembered that her Warner Music contract had a clause in it stating that the company would fund her education for life. She cashed in on the clause, earning a $217,000 Ph.D. from Cornell University – all covered by the label.

The rap legend admits that getting Warner Music to cough up the cash for her degree was a battle, but that she found support in Marguerita Grecco, the dean at Marymount Manhattan College.

"I told Dean Grecco that either I'm going to go here or go to the streets, so I need your help," Shante told the Daily News. "She said, 'We're going to make them pay for this.'"

Grecco allowed her to attend classes for free while pursing the money that Warner owed her. Meanwhile the dean submitted and resubmitted the bills to the label, which finally agreed to honor the contract when Shante threatened to go public with the story.

Shante, now 38, earned her doctorate in 2001. A doctor and a philanthropist, she offers $5,000 college scholarships each semester to female rappers through the nonprofit Hip Hop Association.  

Written by BET.com Staff

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