A story that was too good to be true:
Roxanne Shante was an up-and-coming rap star in the 80s, but her career subsequently fizzed out, and her record company abandoned her. But, according to the New York Daily News
, she managed to get her own back by noticing an obscure clause in her recording contract that obligated Warner Music to fund her education for life. Thanks to this, she was able to earn a Ph.D in psychology from Cornell.
As Ben Sheffner of slate.com notes, "The story was endlessly blogged and tweeted, heralded as an example of a heroic triumph by a girl from the projects over her evil record label." But when he investigated it more closely
, he discovered "Virtually everything about the Daily News' heartwarming 'projects-to-Ph.D.' story appears to be false":
• 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.