Thursday, September 03, 2009

Ya Still Tellin' Lies to Me

There are quite a few doctors in the music game, Dr. Dre, Dr. Ice, Dr. Demento. But it's uncommon for a musician to actually become a legit doctor of philosophy or medicine. Perhaps that's why a story about a underground rap artist who went on to graduate from Cornell on the music industry's dime was so charming.

This expose on Roxanne Shanté says her story broke this summer, but I recall hearing about it on the interwebs awhile back. It was a rare tale of a woman taking control of her destiny and exploiting the music industry in order to live her dreams. But now it seems Shanté's rap was just lies.

Shanté has been telling the world how she used a clause in her Warner Records recording contract go to college, eventually earning a Ph.D. She has alleged that she's used her degree and experience to create a hip-hop therapy clinic. A moving story of redemption and determination for an artist whose career had been ruined in part, by one line from rival MC KRS-ONE. (If you don't know this line, ask somebody who has actually bought records in a record store in the 1980s or listen here around 1:50.) But the real story is much more complicated.

According to Slate, Warner Records says it never had a contract with Shanté, and it was not obligated to pay for her education. 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.

The rapper claims she graduated from another college, not Cornell, under another name. When told this school has no record of her graduation, she blames it on a "computer error?" Or perhaps it was Untouchable Force Organization, up to their old tricks again.

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