March 23, 2018 / 4:56 AM

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Netflix Biopic On '80s Rapper Roxanne Shanté Gets A Trailer


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Roxanne Shanté at the "The Academy Presents: Made You Look Hip Hop Retrospective Screening of Nas: Time Is Illmatic" in New York City last year. The rapper is the subject of a new biopic that will be released on Netflix in March.   ( Kris Connor | Getty Images for The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences )

Netflix releases the trailer for an upcoming biopic that centers around the early life and career of rapper Roxanne Shanté.

Roxanne Roxanne, directed by Michael Larnell, already held its premiere at last year's Sundance Film Festival. The biopic stars Chante Adams as Lolita Shanté Gooden a.k.a. Roxanne Shanté. Academy Award-winning actor Mahershala Ali (Moonlight, Marvel's Luke Cage) also appear in the movie.

Hip-hop artist and music producer Pharell Williams and Academy Award-winning actor Forest Whitaker (Rogue One: A Star Wars Movie, Black Panther) were also involved as producers. Meanwhile, RZA was responsible for the movie's score.

The real Shanté also served as an executive producer of the biopic.

Roxanne's Revenge

Roxanne Roxanne is set in 1982, back when hip-hop was fairly unknown. At the time, the most popular song was UTFO's "Roxanne, Roxanne," a song about a girl that the hip-hop group was trying to seduce.

As a response, Shanté adopted the rap name Roxanne Shanté and released the song that would launch her career: "Roxanne's Revenge." The track sold 250,000 copies during its time and inspired several "answers" that eventually became the "Roxanne Wars," an iconic part of the history and evolution of hip-hop.

Throughout her groundbreaking musical career, Shanté released two albums, namely Bad Sister (1989) and The Bitch is Back (1992). She also has a compilation album that came out in 1995.

She also had several other hits like "Have a Nice Day," "Go on Girl," "Def Fresh Crew," "Payback," "Freestyle," and "Big Mama."

Billboard noted that during her teens, Shanté was one of the first female rappers to have a chart-topping track. She was also the first to become what is called a battle-rap monster.

Shanté is an outspoken feminist, one of the first in the world of hip-hop.

Life Is A Battle

Based on the trailer, Netflix's Roxanne Roxanne will be focusing largely on Shanté's home life and her romance with Cross, the character played by Ali.

In a previous interview, Shanté revealed that the events in the biopic have deeply disturbed the Moonlight actor.

"Mahershala told me, 'This has been one of the most difficult parts I've ever had to play. I'm having a hard time sleeping because of what your character goes through because of me,'" the rapper recalled. "So how do I react to that? Do I say, 'Oh good, so that means you're feeling the part!'Or do I hug him? So what I wind up doing was just hugging him and saying, 'Well, you know what, it turned out good after all.'"

The movie was received with mostly a positive response when it screened at Sundance in January last year. In its review, Variety wrote that the biopic was a "vivid and unusually honest drama about the pain and bravado that were the fuel of hip-hop."

"It's bravura filmmaking like this that helps to make this work standout as something more than just another biopic of a relatively obscure figure from music history," wrote The Hollywood Reporter.

Roxanne Roxanne will be available for streaming on March 23 on Netflix.

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