Obscure Roxanne battle records fortnight part 1: The Primer
Ah, it all seems so long ago now. Before the South Bronx / Queens beef really jumped off, rap’s first real battles on wax were the Roxanne Wars. Strange, really, when Roxanne never really existed. It’s not like UTFO came out and dissed a specific girl. However, they did manage to piss off Mr Magic and Marley Marl by reneging on a concert appearance they’d scheduled (as Mr Magic related to us recently), so they recruited Lolita Gooden for an answer record under the name Roxanne Shante. The rest is history, with UTFO hiring a ‘Real Roxanne’ and everyone and their mother getting in on the act. There are some crazy estimates about the numbers of Roxanne records released, with a few unreliable sources claiming over 100. The truth is nearer 30. We haven’t got them all – yet – but we’re gonna drop a few a lot of you haven’t heard. And, at the end of the fortnight, we’ll stick all the tracks in a folder for you to download, along with a label/cover collage. Aren’t we nice?
We start with the basics, a b-side to a UTFO track that no-one was really feeling. Despite their moderate success, UTFO aren’t much loved by even the most ardent mid-80′s rap fiends. ‘Beats and Rhymes’ was okay, but the Full Force production on much of their work put them at the tame end of the spectrum at a time when hip-hop beats were becoming fantastically, offensively hard. Still, ‘Roxanne, Roxanne’ is a highlight, full of quotables, many of which would be bastardised in answer records and quoted right back at them. It’s hard to pick which version of ‘Roxanne’s Revenge’ is better, Marley Marl keeping both resolutely gutter and scratching up a storm in the background. The vocals on the ‘Vocal Version’ are more polished, but the ‘Street Version’ does kick in with Mr Magic’s trademark ‘A World Premiere…’ jingle. Oh, and no-one got deaded, wet-up or so much as slapped over all this beef. Let that be a lesson…
UTFO – Roxanne, Roxanne
The Real Roxanne – The Real Roxanne
Roxanne Shante – Roxanne’s Revenge (vocal version)
Roxanne Shante – Roxanne’s Revenge (Street version)