Shante, a former foster child who runs Mind Over Matter (a nonprofit that supports girls at risk of failing to graduate), spoke with NBC News about the resilience of hip-hop, as it celebrates its 50th birthday this August.
Shante said, “They said that this wouldn’t last five years or ten years.” “Hip-hop will not disappear.”
Shante’s early contributions in the art form were brought back into the spotlight after her Netflix biopic, “Roxanne Roxanne .“. The film portrays her persona as a rap pioneer and her struggles with romantic and family relationships.
Shante, a teenage girl with a Queens-style flow that she called “relaxed,” made a name for herself in underground battle rap.
She said that each borough had its own unique identity. “Hip-hop was a reflection on what you saw – what was happening around you, and what you dealt with in your neighbourhood.”
In her case it was the Queensbridge Projects in Long Island City Queens. She said, “I grew in the projects and had a million dollar view.” “That million dollar view gave us a mindset of a million dollars.”
Shante continued, “It was hard to impress us.” This attitude is evident in her lyrics from “Roxanne’s Revenge:”I’m conceited / never defeated, never heard the word / I’m just rockin’.”
Shante’s music, along with her self-assured and brazen lyrics, also included empowering messages for Black women. She rapped in her single, “Independent Woman,” “You don’t have to be a man. All you need to do is know that you can.”
Shante, a teenage mother, has endured domestic abuse and other hardships.
She said, “Growing without a dad I understand the damage this world can cause to a girl who doesn’t have father figures around.” “The things she looks forward to, or that she starts looking towards as a replacement for or to fill the void,” she said.
She used her music to share her hard-earned wisdom with other young women. She said, “You don’t need to go through all of this if you listen to what I have learned and experienced; you can still be independent.”
She continues to share these experiences in her SiriusXM Radio show “Have a Nice Day” which is broadcast on LL Cool J Rock the Bells Radio.
Shante, at this stage in her life, said that she is like an “auntie.” She can’t choose a favorite among the younger female rappers of hip-hop.
She continued by mentioning Remy Ma, Megan Thee Stallion, and Cardi B. “Somedays can be ratchet or righteous.”
Shante embraced all of her “hip-hop sisters”
“Black women, i think we have all an inner emcee within us. We all have an inner emcee. She said, “It’s not whether you tap into your creative side and bring it out. It’s about letting her shine.”
“For a long time we were unable to use our voices. We always spoke to ourselves. “If you repeat that for generations, it will come out in rhymes.”