Watch Mahershala Ali in First Trailer for Sundance Hip-Hop Hit Roxanne Roxanne
Back in the early 80s, one of the most feared battle rappers in the cradle of hip-hop, Queens, New York, was a 14-year-old girl.
The incredible and little-known true story behind Lolita “Roxanne Shanté” Gooden is now coming to the big screen, and PEOPLE has the exclusive first trailer for the upcoming Netflix original.
The film was screened last year at the Sundance Film Festival, where Chanté Adams, who plays Shantê, won the festival’s Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Performance. Moonlight Oscar-winner Mahershala Ali and Nia Long also star in the biopic.
Shantê’s career kicked off after meeting fellow rapper Tyrone Williams, D.J. Mr. Magic and record producer Marley Marl outside the Queensbridge housing project, the same complex that produced rap legends like Nas and Mobb Deep.
She gained commercial success after teaming up with Marl to produce a response track to U.T.F.O.’s popular song “Roxanne, Roxanne.” Her version, which legend has it was free-styled in Marl’s apartment in between laundry loads, was titled “Roxanne’s Revenge” and became an instant hit. Gooden was just 14 at the time.
In addition to cataloging her rise to hip-hop legend, Roxanne Roxanne explores Gooden’s difficult upbringing and her hustle to provide for her family while protecting herself against the dangers of the streets.
Also starring Elvis Nolasco, Kevin Phillips and Shenell Edmonds, and featuring music by RZA, Roxanne Roxanne premieres globally on Netflix March 23.