Pioneers are often neglected. That’s why it is with utmost grace to see Netflix bring Roxanne Shanté’s Roxanne, Roxanne to life.
The life of Hip-Hop would not have amounted to what it is today without Roxanne Shanté. 1984 marked the then 14-year old’s career; this became the first time her remix, “Roxanne’s Revenge” was heard on the radio. From then on, her story became remarkable.
Despite her success, she never received any credit for her contributions to the genre.
The film though, helps you see that without her contributions, there wouldn’t be much life in Hip-Hop now.
Her journey begins in regular street battles. The camera pans to and from her opponent, making us feel like we are standing right in that circle. The energy is genuine and very much colloquial. Even if you weren’t thought of in 1984, the scene gives a feeling of nostalgia and showcases an authentic Queensbridge.
Performances from Nia Long and Mahershala Ali were tough but extraordinary watches. They phenomenally played antagonist characters in Roxanne Shantés life. At certain points, they made it hard to remember that these characters- with often rootless morals, helped to shape the young rapper’s life.
This is what distinguishes Roxanne, Roxanne and makes it different from other biopics you’ve seen. Although it is nothing but her truth, the reality of everything else is gritty and raw. It’s in the direction of the shots, the beautiful lighting cast by fluorescent lights and the flawless cinematography.
Although the story is telling of this grand innovator, it still leaves hungry to want more. It seems that the only downplay is the fact that the story feels somehow super incomplete. Nonetheless, the story stands with much power.
It showcases what you have yet to see; a teen female rapper, in moments of her prime, and in moments where you wonder why we don’t know or remember her name; or why she revered when she is the reason for so many New York rappers’ comeuppances.
And that could come as a spoiler, but in the film, you see where she grants the blessing of a great rhyme scheme to one of the most prominent rap stars of New York of this decade.
So, let’s all make sure to watch Roxanne, Roxanne and really learn not only of her important contributions to Hip-Hop but all that has made her who she is.
It is important that we take notice that she is here to witness her story brought to streaming sites, and even more important that we realize the hardships Hip-Hop has faced and how grand it has come to stand after all the doubts against it.