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Shanté's career began at the age of fourteen when she entered the influential world of record producer Marley Marl, radio DJ Mr. Magic, and Tyrone Williams, who were talking about how UTFO had canceled its appearance at a show that it was promoting. Shanté offered to record an answer to UTFO's recent hit "Roxanne, Roxanne," which was about a woman who rejects the members of the group.

The men agreed and the result was "Roxanne's Revenge," a confrontational and profane song in which Shanté assumed the role of Roxanne, dissing UTFO over a Marley Marl-produced instrumental (The official UTFO response to its own song was “The Real Roxanne,” with artist Adelaida Martinez assuming the role of Roxanne and eventually recording under the same stage name as the song title).

Shanté's version and the Real Roxanne's version sparked the Roxanne Wars and made Shanté a hip-hop star in the process.The single would go on to sell over 250,000 copies in the New York area alone. One of the founding members of the Juice Crew, most of her tracks would be produced by Marley Marl, with the exception of several songs on Shanté's last album, 1992's The Bitch Is Back.

 
 

“The First Lady” of Rap
Roxanne Shante

   
 

   
         
         
       
 

As an MC, Shanté was renowned for her ability to freestyle (improvise) entire songs. "Roxanne’s Revenge" was an example, reportedly written as it was recorded—in one take. However, the original version of the song was rerecorded after UTFO sued over the usage of its original backing track; the new version featured slightly different music with less profanity. People are most familiar with this version, which appears on the original 12-inch single released in 1984, with the original on the reverse side.

By the age of 25, Shanté was largely retired from the recording industry. She continued to make occasional guest appearances and live performances, as well as mentor young female hip-hop artists. She did the latter by making a cameo appearance on VH1's hip hop reality show Ms. Rap Supreme and gave rap-battle strategies to the finalists of that show. She also took part in a series of Sprite commercials during the late 1990s.

She returned to performing, and in 2008, her song "Roxanne's Revenge" was ranked number 42 on VH1's 100 Greatest Hip Hop Songs; she re-recorded the song the following year.

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