Thursday, 18 March 2010


I'll be starting this piece with the words of Sister Latifah's fan. I came across this comment while doing some research about her on the web. It goes '' When Queen Latifah enters a scene on film, on stage, or in private, she takes centre stage. This woman has it all- talent, a good sense of humour, a warm laugh, a helping hand, a caring disposition, a good heart and a magic that radiates around her. I adore this woman and admire everything she does.''- Pavlos Kampanis.

Queen Latifah has fans all over the world. I started listening to her music in high school in western Nigeria during the early 90's. One of my friends, Lanre Okuwa, had a cassette full of American Hip-Hop music. Queen Latifah's song, '' Just Another Day'' was on the tape. I can remember that my friend mimed the song during one of our social nights in the boarding house then. Then I started watching MTV music videos and discovered more about the woman whose birth name is Dana Owens. The name ''Latifah'' [ It means '' Delicate '' and ''Sensitive '' in Arabic ] was given to her when she was 8 years old by a black cousin who was a Muslim. Her mother, Rita Owens, did two jobs as a single mother to take care of Latifah and her older brother, Lance Jnr.

After Latifah displayed a level of intelligence during her classes, her mother saved up and ensured she attended a specialist school, Saint Anne's Parochial, where her daughter played the role of Dorothy in the school's production of The Wiz. While in High School, she started rapping alongside two of her friends and they started a women's group called Ladies Fresh. Due to some encouragement from her mum, she started taking music seriously. In 1988, by getting executives at Tommy Boy Records excited with some tracks on her demo tape, she was able to release two singles ''Dance For Me '' and '' Wrath of My Madness ''. After touring Europe in 1989, her first album dropped. Titled '' All Hail The Queen '', the album went Platinum and the reign of the girl from Newark, New Jersey, started.

By the time she released her second album ''Nature of a Sister'' in 1991, Latifah had started acting on TV and in Movies. She featured in Spike Lee's '' Jungle Fever '' which was released in 1992. Contractual difficulties made her leave Tommy Boy Records and she soon set up shop with her own label, Flavour Unit Records. She mentored a number of rap and hip-hop groups including Naughty By Nature. She also appeared on the the Fresh Prince of Bell Air alongside Will Smith. Latifah elicited critical reviews when she played Cleo, a lesbian bank robber, in the film SET IT OFF. She was outstanding with her performance in the movie and made her character very believable. Dana Owens is a great achiever and she's a role model for many young women around the world. Material on her is exhaustive and her story is larger than this blog. In 1997, Queen Latifah was given the Aretha Franklin Award for Entertainer of The Year @ The Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards.

Latifah's Discography:

All Hail The Queen Tommy Boy Records [ 1989 ]
Nature of a Sister Tommy Boy Records [ 1991 ]
Black Reign Motown Records [ 1993 ]
The Dana Owens Album , [ 2004 ]

Latifah has had her bad times too just like the rest of us. She told ESSENCE Magazine that she was sexually abused by a teenage babysitter. In 1996, she was charged with possession of Marijuana and a loaded gun. These incidents notwithstanding, Queen Latifah remains a Rap Legend and also a great actor. RV belives she'll keep thrilling the world in the years ahead.


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