Female hip hop pioneer, Roxanne Shante went down in history as one of the savviest recording artists out there because she went on to get her Ph. D and made her record label pay for her education. But was this story all a lie??
According to the New York Daily News, Roxanne Shanté had finally gotten her own revenge on Warner Music, the record label she accused of “cheating with the contracts, stealing and telling lies,” to avoid paying her what she was owed. How? After valiantly fighting, reported Daily Newsfreelancer Walter Dawkins, Shanté had convinced Warner to honor a contractual agreement to “fund her education for life.” Warner ended up paying more than $200,000, Dawkins reported, to finance Shanté’s education, which Shanté said included an undergraduate degree from Marymount Manhattan College and a Ph.D. in psychology from Cornell.
Sounds good right?? One problem: Virtually everything about the Daily News‘ heartwarming “projects-to-Ph.D.” story appears to be false.
An investigation by Slate has revealed:
- According to Warner, neither it nor any of its subsidiary record labels ever had a contract with Shanté, and it was not obligated to pay for her education. Indeed, there’s no evidence that it ever did.
- Shanté—real name Lolita Shanté Gooden—doesn’t have a Ph.D. from Cornell or anywhere else. Indeed, she admitted it in an interview with Slate. And Cornell has no record of Gooden (or “Shanté”) ever attending or receiving a degree.
- According to Marymount Manhattan College records, Shanté enrolled there but dropped out less than four months later without ever earning a degree.
- New York state records indicate that no one named Lolita Gooden or Roxanne Shanté is licensed to practice psychology or any related field.
When Told of the records indicating she attended only briefly and never graduated, Shanté maintained that she “absolutely” received a B.A. from Marymount Manhattan in 1995. “I didn’t attend the graduation ceremony; at that time I was …” her voice trailed off. “I had my own reasons for that.” Yet she insisted: “Yes, I do have a diploma.” Shanté did not respond to a request for a copy, and Marguerita Grecco, the Marymount Manhattan dean who, Shanté told the Daily News, fought Warner on her behalf, did not return several phone calls and e-mails seeking comment.
Guess Kanye West wasn’t the only college dropout. A big part of me still hopes that Roxanne is telling the truth and this is all one big mistake, although I doubt this is the case. Her story of reinvention and victory was very inspiring to me. I’m saddened by what looks to be a fraudulent reality.