Netflix has released the first trailer for Roxanne Roxanne, the story of a 14-year-old girl from the projects in Queensbridge, New York named Roxanne Shanté, who forever influenced the shape of hip-hop when she released one fiery, breathless track in the early 1980s. The movie traces Shanté's life as a hip-hop legend and a girl who was just trying to hustle and protect herself from the dangers of the streets. The film first premiered at Sundance last year and will be released on Netflix in March.
Roxanne Roxanne is set in '82, when hip-hop was just in its infancy, and tells the story of how Shanté blew up the scene. In '84, one of the biggest tracks of the year was a UTFO single titled “Roxanne, Roxanne” that spoke ill of a girl named Roxanne for being hard to get. Shanté, who was totally unknown, recorded a freestyle response—“Roxanne’s Revenge”—and it was incredible. She recorded the entire four-and-a-half-minute cut in one take, and it’s just her voice and a drum track destroying the man who thought he could get one up on her with a diss. The song inspired a whole series of response tracks and, as a result, influenced the path and success of hip-hop in a significant way.
However, the usual hip-hop storyline inevitably involves fame and fortune; if the bars and the hustle are good enough, money is sure to follow, as well as a ticket out of the projects. But not for Roxanne Shante. That’s why Variety called Roxanne Roxanne the “hip-hop anti-biopic”: although “Roxanne’s Revenge” can be credited as one of the founding blocks of hip-hop, she never had a major label deal, and therefore almost no money at all. Moreover, the movie explore the “inner reality of street cred, which isn’t about moving dope or dropping dimes or pointing AKs” and rather about “waking up each day to a neighborhood of no hope.”
The film stars Chanté Adams as Roxanne, Mahershala Ali as Cross, Roxanne’s boyfriend, Nia Long as Roxanne’s mother Peggy, as well as Elvis Nolasco, Kevin Phillips, and Shennell Edmonds. Roxanne Roxanne is written and directed by Michael Larnell and produced by the same team that brought to you Fruitvale Station and Dope. Look out for it on Netflix on March 23.