a dish best served cold--or an empty plate?

Every time I would read the Bitch, PhD RSS feed lately, this story (cross-posted from here) about Roxanne Shante (rapper on the classic "Roxanne's Revenge") made me smile. The story was sourced to this NY Daily News article:

Shante had very little to show for her breakout hit and subsequent fame--until at the age of 19, she remembered the fine print on her recording contract.

Warner Bros. had included a clause promising to pay for Shante's education. Faced with pennilessness, she decided to cash in on that promise.

Despite foot-dragging by her former label, the story goes, it ended well for her:

By 2001, Warner Bros. had funded Shante's entire college education-up to and including the PhD in psychology she earned that year from Cornell University.

Total cost of education: $217,000. Roxanne's Revenge: priceless.

I was ready to write an inspiring post about her victory over music-industry greed until I read a Slate exposé stating that "[v]irtually everything about the Daily News' heartwarming 'projects-to-Ph.D.' story appears to be false. An investigation by Slate has revealed:"

• According to Warner, neither it nor any of its subsidiary record labels ever had a contract with Shanté, and it was not obligated to pay for her education. Indeed, there's no evidence that it ever did.
• Shanté--real name Lolita Shanté Gooden--doesn't have a Ph.D. from Cornell or anywhere else. Indeed, she admitted it in an interview with Slate. And Cornell has no record of Gooden (or "Shanté") ever attending or receiving a degree.
• According to Marymount Manhattan College records, Shanté enrolled there but dropped out less than four months later without ever earning a degree.
• New York state records indicate that no one named Lolita Gooden or Roxanne Shanté is licensed to practice psychology or any related field.
• In the course of several phone interviews and exchanges over Facebook's internal e-mail system, Shanté--who refers to herself as "Dr." and "doctor"--admitted that she never received a Ph.D.

How disappointing.


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A too-good-to-be-true story. It smelled bad.

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