Roxanne’s Nonexistent Revenge
Heard about the rapper who forced her label to pay for her Cornell Ph.D.? It never happened.
It was the feel-good story of the summer. According to the* New York Daily News*, Roxanne Shanté, a 1980s female hip-hop pioneer famous for the 1984 underground hit “Roxanne’s Revenge,” 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 News freelancer 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. And now, said the Daily News, “Dr. Roxanne Shanté” has “launched an unconventional therapy practice focusing on urban African-Americans,” in which she “incorporates hip-hop music into her sessions, encouraging her clients to unleash their inner MC and shout out exactly what’s on their mind.”
The story was endlessly blogged and tweeted, heralded as an example of a heroic triumph by a girl from the projects over her evil record label. Credulous music-industry critics lapped it up; Techdirt, after stating flatly that Warner had “tr[ied] to cheat [Shanté] out of her contract,” reflected the online sentiment: "It’s nice to see how Warner Music actually did some good in the world, even if it had to be dragged there kicking and screaming."
One problem: Virtually everything about the Daily News’ heartwarming “projects-to-Ph.D.” story appears to be false.
I posted hereabout the original story, now I feel a.) like a sucker, b.) ticked off at the Daily News for not checking the story in the 1st place. Would it have killed them to make a few phone calls?
I wonder if the News will apologise.
Journalists hold themselves forth as this noble profession exposing evil and “speaking truth to power” [sucking up to power is more like it] but I have a feeling that the level of incompetence displayed in this story are not too far below the everyday standard.