I started rapping when I was 14, when Marley Marl asked me to record ‘Roxanne’s Revenge’, a dis on U.T.F.O.’s hit ‘Roxanne, Roxanne’. We lived in the Queensbridge projects, and he promised me Sergio Valente jeans to record with him. I never got the jeans, but the song was an overnight hit. After that, I went on tour for three years as a naive child. I had a baby [now in his 20s] with a man 18 years my senior. I didn’t even have milk money for my baby, but I raised him. Today, I wonder where the adults were.
By 25, I’d quit music and enrolled at Marymount Manhattan College. I remembered a clause in my record contract that said Warner would pay for my education for life. I got a master’s from Cornell, went back to Marymount and became Dr. Roxanne Shante. I also financed Hip Hop Ices in Queens, Philadelphia and Atlanta, which are ice cream stores that hire only kids with police records. The best dish is the Roxanne— it’s Rocky Road with a chocolate topping.