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September 2, 2009 11:26 PM   Subscribe

Roxanne Shanté, considered by some to be a queen of hip hop, got Warner Music to pay for her PhD in psychology. Except, a Slate investigation says it never happened.

Further fact-checking leads to a Google cache of Cornell's notable alumni page, where the html source reveals that she was listed under "Music". Her name is no longer there on the current listing. She also appears in an article by the Cornell Chronicle. However, a recent edit to the article has the sentence "Shanté...went on to earn a Ph.D. in psychology at Cornell" removed.
posted by movicont (72 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
I sincerely doubt that Cornell's psychology program would admission to its PhD program without providing funding. Anyone who believes that Warner Music is out there funding doctorates probably has no idea what such a degree actually entails.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 11:32 PM on September 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


I want to believe
posted by andendau at 12:41 AM on September 3, 2009


Why'd she have to claim that fake degree?
An F-A-U-X-P-H-D?
posted by pracowity at 12:47 AM on September 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


Sheeeeeeeeeit
posted by dhammond at 1:23 AM on September 3, 2009


Oh shit! Now are you going to tell me that Dr. Dre has been lying all this time about having been awarded a doctorate in cybernetics from Carnegie Mellon? And that MC Hammer isn't really Microsoft certified? Have I been letting a fraud administrate my company intranet for the last two years?
posted by bunnytricks at 1:37 AM on September 3, 2009 [16 favorites]


The Real Roxanne never tried to pull this kind of nonsense. I think the moral of this story is that UTFO is the undisputed winner of the Roxanne Wars.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 1:57 AM on September 3, 2009 [9 favorites]


When the lastest raft of coverage (kicked off by the New York Daily News) claimed her label had paid $200,000+ towards a PhD in psychology at Cornell, my first thought was, who the hell pays retail for an Ivy League social science doctorate?

No one, apparently.
posted by availablelight at 1:59 AM on September 3, 2009


Only people who should not be getting one.
posted by fourcheesemac at 2:32 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Further fact-checking leads to a Google cache of Cornell's notable alumni page, where the html source reveals that she was listed under "Music". Her name is no longer there on the current listing.

I dont know if there are any Cornell grads here, but at my college, any alum has access to a searchable directory listing all other alums, when they graduated and their degrees. Is that not possible at Cornell? If so, it seems very many people could have checked on this earlier.
posted by vacapinta at 2:59 AM on September 3, 2009


Wait, Chris Cornell runs a university?
posted by bwg at 3:12 AM on September 3, 2009 [7 favorites]


While we're investigating, everyone should check out Professor Longhair.
posted by pracowity at 3:23 AM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure what prompted Slate to undertake this investigation now, but, in case anyone missed it there was quite a bit of discussion of Roxanne Shante and her "education" in this Ask Mefi thread from a couple days ago. Coincidence? You decide.
posted by vacapinta at 3:27 AM on September 3, 2009


Time to update my resume. I seem to have forgotten to list that PHD in astrophysics that I earned at MIT under an alias, because of the domestic violence thing.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:44 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Who's the educated rapper now?
posted by snofoam at 4:00 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


There's something a bit half arsed about that Slate article, as if they hit a deadline before they'd got to the bottom of the story and had to write up what they had. It makes the writer seem like all they were interesting in was disproving that someone like her could go to Cornell and didn't care what her actual story was. I hope they write a follow up.
posted by cillit bang at 4:09 AM on September 3, 2009


This is great news for U.T.F.O.
posted by drezdn at 4:18 AM on September 3, 2009


There's something a bit half arsed about that Slate article

There's something a bit half arsed about anyone publishing anything about a one-hit juvenile rapper 25 years after the fact. Or has she done something lately? My subscription to the Roxanne Shanté newsletter has expired.
posted by pracowity at 4:23 AM on September 3, 2009


If we're getting technical, Roxanne was a two-hit wonder. She was featured on a Rick James track called "Loosey's Rap" that went #1 R&B in 1988.
posted by blucevalo at 4:46 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


OK, fine. One-and-a-half-hit semi-juvenile co-rapper 21.0 of your Earth years after the purported fact.
posted by pracowity at 5:06 AM on September 3, 2009


One of my favourites. Written by Kool G Rap.
posted by Bobby Bittman at 5:32 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sure...next, you're going to tell me Dr. Octagon shouldn't be giving pelvic exams.
posted by anthom at 5:33 AM on September 3, 2009 [20 favorites]


The badly researched Daily News piece will probably get a Pulitzer and Roxanne will probably be the new CEO of 'The Shack'.
posted by haveanicesummer at 5:33 AM on September 3, 2009


There's something a bit half arsed about that Slate article, as if they hit a deadline before they'd got to the bottom of the story and had to write up what they had. It makes the writer seem like all they were interesting in was disproving that someone like her could go to Cornell and didn't care what her actual story was. I hope they write a follow up.

Huh? Maybe they just thought "hey, I know, I'll write a story about that rapper who earned a PhD on Warner Music's dime" and then when they looked into it, it turned out there was nothing there. Once yo find out the most obvious stuff is false it seems obvious that there's a more interesting story there.

Besides, what else is there to report? Roxanne wasn't being honest with him and kept changing her story. First she just had the MA, then she just said she had a BA, then she made up some story about a domestic violence thing, etc.
posted by delmoi at 5:53 AM on September 3, 2009


Well, I am going to continue my sessions with Dr. Roxanne, since I'm very close to beating this defreshun.
posted by orme at 5:53 AM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm going to start telling people I earned all of my degrees under my alias, Stephen Hawking.
posted by JaredSeth at 6:03 AM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


"incorporates hip-hop music into her sessions, encouraging her clients to unleash their inner MC and shout out exactly what's on their mind."

I wonder if that's covered by insurance.
posted by Houstonian at 6:05 AM on September 3, 2009


Next in this series of hard-hitting investigative journalism: The Fat Boys did not, in fact, "stuff their faces to a funky beat". And contrary to the claims in Jailhouse Rap, Burger King does not present you with a bill after your meal.
posted by Bernt Pancreas at 6:09 AM on September 3, 2009


Next thing you'll be telling me that there is actually an element of doubt about the Diggity.
posted by fire&wings at 6:14 AM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Nothing makes me feel good like seeing a feel-good story get destroyed.
posted by the bricabrac man at 6:25 AM on September 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


I wonder if that's covered by insurance.

It will be if the Freedom-destroying Obamacare socialized Nazi medicine bill is passed. Even illegal aliens will have fully paid access to hip-hop psychological services, which will be mandatory for Senior Citizens.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:36 AM on September 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


The real story here is that the media got duped by a story, for several years, that could have easily been checked. It's certainly not the biggest story on the block, but I think it demonstrates that a lot of journalists are lazy hacks. Well, at least I know they would never make that mistake on a big story, where millions of lives and trillions of dollars are at stake.
posted by Edgewise at 6:48 AM on September 3, 2009


Also, apparently Chuck D. never was jailed for draft evasion.
posted by acb at 6:53 AM on September 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


> Next in this series of hard-hitting investigative journalism:

Professor Griff: Not tenured at an accredited four-year college.
Jungle Brothers: Are their claims to relationships a tax dodge?
Snow: Canadians do not use inches to measure, they use centimeters. WE EXPOSE THE TRUTH!
posted by ardgedee at 7:04 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


The Fat Boys did not, in fact, "stuff their faces to a funky beat".

I have no witty remarks on this subject, and certainly none that cleverly reference lyrics or MC stage names from the late '80s and early '90s. Fortunately, the rest of you are doing a yeoman's job and today is therefore a very good day.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 7:05 AM on September 3, 2009


Sad. And it was such an awesome story.
posted by serazin at 7:15 AM on September 3, 2009


It is sad. In general, I'm all for the truth, but this woman was trying to move on to the next phase of her life. I mean, she wasn't born into a life full of potential, but she had a brief chance to do something with her life. And when that faded, what was she to do? She tried to go to back to school, but if you aren't raised in an environment where you learn how to learn, you might find it hard. Sometimes a little lying on the resume can move you on to the next step. It wasn't like she was trying to get a job as a neuro-surgeon, she just wanted to reinvent herself, and find a place in the world.
posted by bitslayer at 7:23 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Techdirt had a bit on this at about the same time.

>I'm going to start telling people I earned all of my degrees under my alias, Stephen Hawking.

Also a rapper, coincidently.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:26 AM on September 3, 2009


Who's the educated rapper now?

Mix-a-Lot fought with his brain, and not the gat. So I'll give him the nod.
posted by norm at 7:28 AM on September 3, 2009


But Bullwinkle did get his degree from Whassamatta U, right?
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:42 AM on September 3, 2009


Sister Nancy is still the only woman DJ with degree.
posted by box at 7:43 AM on September 3, 2009


Slick Rick: not actually a ruler.
Mad Professor: not a clinically-insane university teacher.
Beastie Boys: actually adult men.
posted by zippy at 7:44 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


bitslayer: "In general, I'm all for the truth, but..."

You've got to be kidding me....
posted by tenmuses at 7:47 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


> Mix-a-Lot fought with his brain, and not the gat. So I'll give him the nod.

Ah, but Ice-T's lethal weapon is his mind. So there's that to consider.
posted by ardgedee at 7:58 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Saying that Roxanne Shante is a one hit wonder is ridiculous. Saying Roxanne Shante is a legend is a fair statement. She was one of the best battle mc's of her time, She killed Busy Bee, La Fruikwan, Queen Latifah, Mc Lyte, Yo Yo, money love, and lots of other legit mc's. She has a really good catalog of records as well.

roxanne's revenge
def fresh crew
go on girl
bite this
big mama
live on stage
juice crew all stars

i've played all of these records at real hip hop clubs.

I had heard about her having a phd and she had her own practice and was happy because she was definitely one of the best of her era.

I hope her psycology practice isn't "wrecked, ruined, damaged, or ripped"
posted by LouieLoco at 8:00 AM on September 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


Slick Rick: not actually a ruler.

I beg to differ. He could wipe the floor with most MCs with his hands tied behind his back.
posted by blucevalo at 8:06 AM on September 3, 2009


She killed Busy Bee

Who didn't kill Busy Bee?
posted by electroboy at 8:08 AM on September 3, 2009


It wasn't like she was trying to get a job as a neuro-surgeon, she just wanted to reinvent herself, and find a place in the world.
posted by bitslayer at 7:23 AM on September 3


A completely uneducated therapist can be just as dangerous as a completely uneducated neurosurgeon.

"You say that there are voices in your head telling you to kill? Sounds like someone needs to get on the mic and just let it out!"
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:09 AM on September 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


Ok, ok:

Ol' Dirty Bastard. Neither old, nor dirty, nor a bastard.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 8:13 AM on September 3, 2009


The thing with Busy Bee is that he was one of the first guys to really put rhymes together and not just hype up the dj. He was the first guy to win a lot of battles and therefore guys and girls gunned after him.

I didn't look at your link but I'm assuming that its a link to Kool Moe Dee and Busy Bee battle. That battle really shaped hip hop, Busy Bee kind of got a raw deal on the first one though. He just kind of showed up unexpected and started going at the Chief Rocker. Those were all written rhymes, and most of them were from the not yet released trecherous 3 song New Rap Language. So even though he lost in most peoples minds Busy Bee wasn't somebody that everyone killed.

Busy Bee also lives down the street from me in baltimore and is a super nice guy.
posted by LouieLoco at 8:17 AM on September 3, 2009


I don't know, she's claiming to have a Master's degree under a different name, and is declining to say what that name is. She's not required to share that information with us. If she's lying it would be a really dumb thing for her to lie about, but if she isn't then this is a really dumb thing to call someone out on.
posted by hermitosis at 8:27 AM on September 3, 2009


Best time for this?.

What is brown and rhymes with Snoop?


Dr Dre.
posted by pianomover at 8:53 AM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Busy Bee isn't dead, but I don't think he's back at the hotel either.
posted by mintcake! at 9:04 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, that was mostly a joke, since Busy was famously taken down by Moe Dee. But he did go down, hard. Moe Dee was a lot more aggressive and was certainly gunning for Busy, but that's how it goes.
posted by electroboy at 9:06 AM on September 3, 2009


How great would it be in a sick way if the real roxanne used this to restart the dis war? Where's she at right about now?
posted by cashman at 10:21 AM on September 3, 2009


Nuts! Thanks for the update. I wanted to believe also.
posted by jessamyn at 10:23 AM on September 3, 2009


No! But what does this say about Kurtis Blow and his doctorate in theology?
posted by twins named Lugubrious and Salubrious at 10:32 AM on September 3, 2009


If the Real Roxanne tried to battle Roxane Shante again it would go similiar to the first one she'd get

Wrecked, ruined, damaged, ripped
Cross my path, your ass'll get whipped
Cause Shanté ain't about no games
Matter of fact, yo, I'ma start callin off names
First up there's Latifah
You roll up, and I'ma smoke that ass like reefer
Cause you ain't never in life been a star to me
Sold the fuck out tryin to go R&B
Now that shit is shady
You say ladies first, well I'm the first lady
And all y'all hoes are phoney
Try to get flippid, I'ma rip you and your girl Monie
You're illegitimate, tryin to get a little bit
And I'm about sick of that 'Monie-in-the-middle'-shit
Your album cold garbage
Had one good jam, now you think you a star, bitch
Breakin your neck tryin to be in the limelight
But give you a mic, and you can't even rhyme right
So get the fuck off the scene
Cause I got a M-16 that says 'Shanny's the queen'
And all you bitches got your style from me
The capital S-h-a-n-t-é
Used to go to my show, analyze how the sound flow
On the down low, fuck around, lay around, hoe
So save all the drama
And make room for the Big Mama
posted by LouieLoco at 10:41 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Where's she at right about now?

Grenada?
posted by mintcake! at 10:42 AM on September 3, 2009


Master P: More accurately described as Journeyman P
posted by drezdn at 10:43 AM on September 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


Killah Priest: seminary dropout.
posted by box at 11:48 AM on September 3, 2009


Ol' Dirty Bastard. Neither old, nor dirty, nor a bastard.

Well, not old anyway.
posted by electroboy at 12:45 PM on September 3, 2009


Eminem: not actually a hard-shelled chocolate confection.
posted by zippy at 2:04 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Followup on TechDirt here.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 3:29 PM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


"I'm just gonna let it go ... What he's trying to do is trying to get himself known, to get the popular sites to read after him. This is not a $5 billion Ponzi scheme. What would make someone go so hard and heavy at that?"--Shante
posted by box at 3:57 PM on September 3, 2009


What I find more chilling is the reference to a for-profit clearing house business that will provide someone's transcripts for a fee. I dunno about y'all, but my transcripts have my SS# on them, because that's what universities used as your student ID.

I need to go look in to what is actually accessible to whom, but it sure seems like this company would be the easiest way ever to do ID theft.
posted by dejah420 at 5:09 PM on September 3, 2009


Wow. I had no idea Roxanne Shante was the hip-hop Sarah Palin.

At least Roxanne's raps are coherent and interesting.
posted by grounded at 5:39 PM on September 3, 2009



She killed Busy Bee

Who didn't kill Busy Bee ?


There's a video on YouTube of a Roxanne Shante vs. Busy Bee battle from 1985 or so, and Busy Bee wins (although not by much).
posted by DecemberBoy at 9:07 PM on September 3, 2009


The Fat Boys did not, in fact, "stuff their faces to a funky beat".

Well, if you've ever seen Krush Groove then you would know they sure as hell did

Ol' Dirty Bastard. Neither old, nor dirty, nor a bastard.

Actually, yes he was on all three.
posted by P.o.B. at 9:15 PM on September 3, 2009


Busy Bee was announced the winner of that battle, but everyone knew that was respect for the Chief Rocker. Roxanne was the real winner. Roxanne Shante made him look bad, he admits it even now.
posted by LouieLoco at 7:03 AM on September 4, 2009


"I'm just gonna let it go ... What he's trying to do is trying to get himself known, to get the popular sites to read after him. This is not a $5 billion Ponzi scheme. What would make someone go so hard and heavy at that?"

Because you're a fucking liar and totally unqualified to be a therapist. If you hadn't made this shit up, no one would be calling you out on it.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:31 AM on September 4, 2009


I don't understand how Roxanne's name ended up on Cornell's alumni website. Anyone care to explain that glaring fact away.
posted by phaedon at 1:36 AM on September 5, 2009


Because the person compiling the article was likely an overworked intern doing a Google search for interesting alumni? It's even less likely to be thoroughly fact-checked than a tabloid newspaper article.
posted by cillit bang at 4:18 AM on September 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


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