One woman considered royalty in the hip-hop world is probably singing one tune these days, directed at Slate.com.
“Why’d ya have to check the records on me? The R.O.X.A.N.N.E.”
Former rapper Roxanne Shante’s briefly well-regarded 15 minutes of fame this summer, in which she reportedly earned a Ph.D. at Cornell University at her old record label’s expense, is apparently a big farce.
The story, originally reported in the New York Daily News this summer, was a triumphant piece about how a teenage rapper from the projects stuck it to the hawkish music industry, getting them to pay for her education “for life.” Shante’, in the NY Daily News piece, said she was a practicing doctor in New York and insinuated that she was making big moolah.
After some investigative reporting, Slate.com virtually told Shante to kill that noise.
Turns out that Shante’, aka Lolita Shante’ Gooden, doesn’t have a Ph.D. nor does she have a degree. She dropped out of Marymount Manhattan College in less than four months of being there. Turns out the former rapper known for her early 1980s hits is not a doctor either.
Slate contacted Shante’ via Facebook and she admitted to some of the misconceptions, but she also said:” I got my master’s in psychology. I didn’t complete my Ph.D.”
Whoa, Shante’, word is bond?
Slate.com was not able to find any evidence of a master’s degree in psychology, but the search for her old record contract (through Cold Chillin’ Records) yielded a few clues.
First, Warner Brothers who had a distribution deal with Cold Chillin, said there was not any evidence of a contractual obligation to pay for Shante’s college expenses. “Our examination of that file [of Warner’s relationship with Cold Chillin’] … has not revealed any evidence of any ‘education clause’ in any agreement.”
Also owning up to zilch was former attorney Jonathan Black, the attorney who negotiated Shante’s contract in the early 1980s. He reportedly told Slate.com that the original paperwork was destroyed in a flood and that he didn’t work out any clause for Shante’s education to be paid for. “I’m sure that I didn’t negotiate a contract that covered that kind of arrangement. I never did anything like that,” he told Slate.com.
When confronted with the evidence that Cornell officials said there was no record of a Lolita Shante’ Gooden or Roxanne Shante’ attending the university, Shante’ switched it up a bit. “I also attended College under an alias, because of a Domestic Violence situation” she said. She then reportedly said she “made a mistake on an application and put my old name so maybe that’s the reason for the computer error?”
Not a good look.
Shante’ didn’t take this diss laying down, though. The rapper told Lemondrop.com: “I’m just gonna let it go … What [the Slate.com investigative reporter is] 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?”
It’s true; there was an awful lot of legwork put into the search to see if Shante’s claims were authentic. Why did they go after Shante’ so hard?
For there part, Slate was not able to contact the freelance reporter who wrote the piece for the Daily News, which has all but disowned the story.
Although it’s not by any means new for people to lie about getting their degrees and what not (check your resume’ lately?); what’s interesting is what went down at Cornell, apparently after the Slate story broke.
Seems Roxanne Shante was indeed listed as a Cornell alumni on the university’s web site (Google’s cache of the Cornell web site proves it). Mysteriously the alumni page was edited to remove Shante’s name after the story broke.
In any event, the record company probably should be paying Shante’ right now, since they no doubt shafted her on the record contract.
Besides, she’s a hip-hop legend. Bragging, boasting, exaggerating is all a part of rap these days.
She’s still in the anals of history as being one of the first female rappers in hip-hop.
And for you investigative types, you can look that up.