“From the Vaults” – a new feature on NeoSoulCypher.com dedicated to showcasing classing talent and music that still hits today from the ranks of Neo Soul and Classic Hip-Hop.
The Queen Reigns! Queen Latifah (aka Dana Owens)
Queen Latifah was just honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the BET Awards on Sunday, June 27, 2021. It is the culmination of a truly amazing career. While our Part 5 to the Native Tongue Family focus is a little delayed, it’s actually right on time, so that we can give the Queen her roses along with the rest of the world. The Queen started her career with the single “Wrath of My Madness,” in which Latifah introduced us to her skills, displaying advanced rhyming schemes and a magnetic and confident flow – the Queen took her first seat on the throne. Combined with Monie Love, Latifah connected with the rest of the Native Tongue Family on a number of collabs, including the classic “Buddy (Native Tongues Decision)” by De La Soul featuring Jungle Brothers, A Tribe Called Quest, Monie Love, and Queen Latifah and “Doin’ Our Own Dang” by Jungle Brothers feat. De La Soul, Queen Latifah, Q-Tip and Monie Love, from Done by the Forces of Nature. Queen Latifah’s hip-hop albums were All Hail the Queen (1989), Nature of a Sista’ (1991), Black Reign (1993) and Order in the Court (1998). She hit us with her multi-dimensions in music in 2004 when she released the dazzling soul/jazz standards The Dana Owens Album, and gave us another hip-hop album in 2007 with Persona. Her hits were true bangas that we can all still recite today, including: “U.N.I.T.Y” from Black Reign, a track responding to the disrespect and denigration of women in Rap that became prevalent in the early 90’s; “Ladies First” from All Hail the Queen, that displayed the lyrical skill and verbal combativeness of Queen Latifah and Monie Love, letting all know that women in Rap could kick skillful flows as good if not better than the best male Rappers; and “Latifah’s Had it Up to Here from Nature of a Sista,” in which she had to let em all know she deserved respect and homage for her superior talent as she began to ascend and not the rumors about her sexuality.
From my home state and area of Northern N.J, specifically the East Orange, NJ area, the Queen is not only known for her affiliation with the Native Tongue Family, she was also a prime mover in the Flava Unit collective, which was a crew of MC’s and DJ’s from the area. The group morphed into an artist management company, representing heavy hitters ranging from Naughty By Nature, to Monica, to SWV, to LL Cool J and Zhane. I would be remiss not to mention another major part of Queen Latifah’s career that many may say has eclipsed her musical career (not me though). Her film and T.V. career has rivaled that of some of the most prominent, ranging from the Living Single sitcom which inspired Friends, to movies with such heavy weights as Steve Martin, Diane Keaton and Gabrielle Union, to a nationally syndicated talk show, to a hit action series The Equalizer. She is not just a triple threat with her rapping, singing and acting, she is a quadruple threat as a first rate business executive. So let’s recognize the Queen’s Reign and let her know that the ladies really are first. Here’s an excerpt from the 2021 BET Awards Lifetime Tribute segment dedicated to the Queen!