Queen Latifah

Queen Latifah , 1970- , African-American rapper, songwriter, and actress, b. Newark, N.J., as Dana Elaine Owens. In a musical style known for its misogyny, Latifah stood out from the state as an empowered woman who sang songs that addressed her race and gender. She began her career beat boxing as a teenager when she was “discovered” by the head of rap label, Tommy Boy Records. Her first major hit came in 1989 with “Ladies First,” followed by the anthemic “U.N.I.T.Y.” (1993; Grammy best song). However, after 2003, Latifah primarily focused her recording career on singing jazz and pop standards. Latifah began her acting career in 1991, landing her own successful sitcom two years later, Living Single (1993-98) for which she wrote and performed the theme song. She has also hosted her own daytime TV talk show from 1999-2001 and then again from 2013-15. Latifah established her movie career with her appearance in the film of the musical Chicago (2002), followed by appearances in Bringing Down the House (2003), Hairspray (2007), and the TV movie, Bessie (2015). In 2021, she began appearing as the lead in the TV crime drama, The Equalizer. She was the first rapper to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (2006).

See her Ladies First: Revelations of a Strong Woman (1998).

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