Roxanne Shante: Bio, Son, Husband, and Net Worth – the Legendary Rapper

Roxanne Shante is a pioneer of hip-hop, known for her razor-sharp disses and being the first female rapper to have a hit single. Born and raised in the Queensbridge Projects of Queens, New York City, she first gained attention through the Roxanne Wars and was part of the Juice Crew. Despite dropping out suddenly, she recently emerged with a biopic, “Roxanne Roxanne,” that dramatized her life story.

If you’re curious about Roxanne Shante’s personal life, she has a son named Kareem with her ex-husband, James Cross. She could have been worth far more than her current estimated net worth of $500,000 if she had not been cheated out of her royalties and contract incomes generated during her tours and shows by her handlers during her productive years in the music industry. Join us as we explore the life and career of this American female hip-hop pioneer.

Early Life and Education

Roxanne Shante was born as Lolita Shanté Gooden on March 8, 1970, in Queens, New York City. She grew up in the Queensbridge Projects, which is the largest public housing development in North America.

Shante’s mother was a single parent who worked as a nurse’s aide to support her family. Shante’s passion for music began at an early age, and she started rapping when she was just nine years old.

Shante attended Marymount Manhattan College, where she studied psychology. However, she dropped out of college to pursue her music career. Despite not completing her degree, Shante has been recognized for her contributions to hip-hop culture and music.

Later on, Shante was awarded an honorary doctorate degree from Cornell University, recognizing her as a pioneer of hip-hop music.

Shante’s upbringing in Queensbridge Projects and her pursuit of a music career have been significant factors in shaping her life and career.


Rise to Fame

Roxanne Shanté, born Lolita Shanté Gooden, is a hip-hop pioneer who revolutionized the industry in the male-dominated field. She rose to fame in the mid-1980s with her freestyling raps and quick-witted rhyming skills. At the young age of 14, she caught the attention of DJ Mr. Magic, who invited her to participate in his rap challenge on his radio show, “Rap Attack.” Her performance was so impressive that she was immediately signed to a recording contract with Warner Music.

Roxanne Wars

In 1984, Roxanne Shanté became involved in the infamous “Roxanne Wars,” a series of hip-hop rivalries and diss tracks between various artists. She released the track “Roxanne’s Revenge,” which was a response to the song “Roxanne, Roxanne” by the group UTFO. The track became an instant hit and put Roxanne Shanté on the map as a force to be reckoned with in the industry.

Record and Albums

Throughout her career, Roxanne Shanté released several albums, including “Bad Sister” and “The Bitch is Back.” Her music was well-received and landed her a spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. She also went on tours and performed at shows across the country, showcasing her talent and dedication to the craft.

Film Career

In 2018, Roxanne Shanté’s life was portrayed in a biopic titled “Roxanne Roxanne,” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. The film, directed by Michael Larnell and produced by Forest Whitaker and Pharrell Williams, showcased Roxanne Shanté’s achievements and struggles throughout her career. The film was well-received and earned critical acclaim for its portrayal of the hip-hop pioneer.

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Roxanne Shanté’s career has been a testament to her talent and dedication to the industry. Despite facing challenges and setbacks, she has continued to make her mark as a musician and inspiration to many.

Personal Life

Roxanne Shante, born Lolita Shanté Gooden on March 8, 1970, is an American rapper and hip-hop musician. Besides her music career, Roxanne Shante is a mother and a breast cancer survivor.

Marriage and Children

Roxanne Shante was previously married to James Cross, a retired boxer, and they have a son named Kareem. However, the couple later divorced. Roxanne Shante is currently single and has three sons.

Health Challenges

In 2009, Roxanne Shante was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent treatment. She is a breast cancer survivor and has since been an advocate for early detection and cancer awareness.

In addition to her health challenges, Roxanne Shante has also faced financial difficulties due to being cheated out of her royalties and contract incomes generated during her tours and shows by her handlers during her productive years in the music industry. However, she has continued to persevere and is still active in the music industry today.

Roxanne Shante’s personal life has had its ups and downs, but she has remained resilient and continues to inspire others through her music and advocacy work.

Net Worth

Roxanne Shante has made a name for herself in the music industry as one of the pioneers of female rap. As of 2023, her estimated net worth is around $1 million, according to sources. However, this figure could have been much higher if she had not been cheated out of her royalties and contract incomes generated during her tours and shows by her handlers during her productive years in the music industry.

Despite the setbacks, Roxanne Shante has managed to accumulate a substantial net worth throughout her career. She has released several albums and singles, and has also made appearances in movies and TV shows. In addition, she has also been involved in philanthropic work, particularly in mentoring problematic teenagers through her non-profit organization, “Mind Over Matter,” which she manages with her husband, Jabber Ali.

Roxanne Shante’s net worth is also attributed to her successful music career, which has spanned over three decades. She first gained attention through the Roxanne Wars and was part of the Juice Crew. Her razor-sharp disses and lyrical prowess made her stand out in the male-dominated industry, and she became the first female rapper to have a hit single. She has since released several albums and singles, which have cemented her place in hip-hop history.

Roxanne Shante has had a successful career in the music industry, and her net worth reflects her hard work and dedication. Despite facing challenges and setbacks, she has managed to accumulate a substantial amount of wealth through her music, philanthropic work, and business ventures.

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Legacy and Impact

Roxanne Shante’s contribution to the music industry as a female rapper cannot be overstated. She was one of the pioneers of hip hop and helped pave the way for future generations of female MCs. In the male-dominated world of hip hop, Roxanne Shante was a trailblazer, and her influence continues to be felt today.

Roxanne Shante’s hit single “Roxanne’s Revenge” was a game-changer in the rap battle scene, and it helped establish her as a hip-hop pioneer. The song was a response to UTFO’s “Roxanne Roxanne,” and it quickly became a sensation. The song’s success led to a series of response records, known as the Roxanne Wars, which helped put female rappers on the map.

Roxanne Shante’s impact on the music industry can be seen in the success of other female MCs who followed in her footsteps. Queen Latifah, Monie Love, and MC Lyte are just a few examples of female rappers who were inspired by Roxanne Shante’s trailblazing career.

Despite facing numerous challenges and setbacks throughout her career, Roxanne Shante remained dedicated to her craft. She continued to make music, mentor young artists, and advocate for women in the industry. Her legacy as a female hip-hop rapper and hip-hop pioneer will continue to inspire future generations of artists for years to come.


Roxanne Shante has had her fair share of controversies throughout her career. Some of the most notable ones are:

Dissing Other Rappers

During the Roxanne Wars in the 1980s, Shante gained notoriety for her disses against other rappers, including KRS-One and MC Lyte. While some saw it as a playful competition, others criticized her for being too aggressive and disrespectful.

Vulgar Lyrics

Shante’s lyrics were often criticized for being vulgar and inappropriate, especially for a female rapper. Some of her songs, such as “Go on Girl,” were banned from radio stations due to their explicit content.

Lean on Me

In 1989, Shante made an appearance in the movie “Lean on Me” as a student. However, her role was cut from the final version of the film due to her behavior on set.


Shante’s hit single “Roxanne’s Revenge” was a response to U.T.F.O.’s song “Roxanne, Roxanne.” However, some accused her of exploiting the situation for her own gain and causing unnecessary drama.

Broken Ribs

In 2009, Shante made headlines when she revealed that she had been physically abused by her ex-husband, resulting in broken ribs. She used her experience to raise awareness about domestic violence and help other victims.


Roxanne Shante has released a number of albums throughout her career, showcasing her unique style and lyrical prowess. Here’s a rundown of her discography:

  • The Bitch is Back (1992): This album marked Roxanne Shante’s return to the music industry after a hiatus. It features a mix of old and new tracks, including the standout single “Big Mama”.

  • Bad Sister (1995): This album showcases Roxanne Shante’s growth as an artist, with a more mature sound and thoughtful lyrics. Highlights include “Independent Woman” and “Straight Razor”.

  • Have a Nice Day (1997): This album features a more upbeat sound, with Roxanne Shante experimenting with different styles and genres. Standout tracks include “Deadly Rhymes” and “I’m Fly Shante”.

  • Colors (1999): This album sees Roxanne Shante collaborating with a variety of artists, including Kool G Rap and Big Daddy Kane. The result is a diverse and dynamic collection of tracks, with highlights including “Live on Stage” and “What’s Going On”.

  • Lean on Me (2008): This album features a more introspective and personal side of Roxanne Shante, with tracks that touch on themes of love, loss, and redemption. Standouts include “Love Jones” and “My Groove Gets Better”.

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Throughout her career, Roxanne Shante has also collaborated with a number of other artists, including U.T.F.O (“Roxanne, Roxanne”), Biz Markie, and Go On Girl. Her contributions to the hip-hop genre have been significant, and her legacy continues to inspire new generations of artists.


Roxanne Shante has been a part of a few films and documentaries throughout her career. Here’s a brief overview of her filmography:

  • Roxanne Roxanne: This 2017 film is a dramatization of Roxanne Shante’s life and career. It stars Chanté Adams as Roxanne Shante, and also features Nia Long and Mahershala Ali in supporting roles. The film received positive reviews for its performances and portrayal of Shante’s life.

  • Tell It All: This 2015 documentary features interviews with Roxanne Shante, as well as other hip-hop pioneers like MC Lyte and Yo-Yo. The documentary explores the role of women in hip-hop and the challenges they faced in a male-dominated industry.

  • Blender: Roxanne Shante appeared in this 2004 independent film, which tells the story of a struggling musician who becomes a drug dealer to make ends meet. Shante played the role of a drug dealer named Tanya.

While Roxanne Shante’s filmography may be small, her contributions to hip-hop culture have been significant. Her story has been told through film and documentary, and her impact on the industry is still felt today.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the age difference between Roxanne Shante and James Cross?

Roxanne Shante and James Cross had a significant age difference of 14 years. Roxanne was only 14 years old when she met James, who was already 28 years old at the time.

Is James Cross still alive?

Unfortunately, James Cross passed away in 2010 due to complications from diabetes.

How old is Roxanne Shante’s son?

Roxanne Shante’s son, Kareem, was born in 1992, which makes him 31 years old as of 2023.

Does Roxanne Shante have any children?

Yes, Roxanne Shante has one son named Kareem.

Who is the real Cross from Roxanne Roxanne?

James Cross, also known as Cross, was a key figure in Roxanne Shante’s life and the inspiration behind her hit song “Roxanne’s Revenge.” Cross was a rapper and producer who worked with Shante during her early career.

What is Roxanne Shante doing now?

Roxanne Shante is currently involved in various philanthropic activities, including her work with the non-profit organization “Mind Over Matter,” which focuses on mentoring troubled teenagers. She also occasionally performs at music festivals and events.

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