She Is Focused

October 6, 2009

Sirius XM Artist Confidential: Queen Latifah

Filed under: Album Reviews,Chat 'bout,Flashback,New Music — Felicia @ 12:06 pm

Dana Owens p/k/aDana Owens known to all as Queen Latifah has built quite a name for herself from her modest beginnings growing up in Newark, NJ. Her list of accomplishments read like a resume one can only hope to attain; the first female MC to ever have a gold album, success as a mainstream artist, several movie roles, numerous awards, an award-winning sitcom, talk show host and most recently one of the new faces of CoverGirl. Like many other celebrities, she’s had her time under the paparazzi’s scrutiny, but her talent has proven strong enough to overshadow the negativity as she continues to climb further along the A-list hierarchy.  

The Queen sat down with Sirius XM Artist Confidential before a live audience to answer questions about her career as well as perform songs from Black Reign, the album that brought her to light as well as her current album Persona.

Latifah talked about going to choir rehearsal with her aunt at a young age which initially peaked her interest in music. She described watching her aunt orchestrate her church’s choir as “seeing all these colors coming at me in the form of music”. Both her parents played musical instruments and often had mini sessions in her home growing up. She also described being introduced to Hip-Hop and having it bite her like a bug; immediately grabbing her attention. Although becoming a rapper wasn’t her initial interest, she was consumed by the culture itself and wanted to take it all in. She talked about singing being her first passion saying “Hip-Hop definitely put me on a different road and I’ve always tried to figure out how to blend them together once I started making music.” She added, “beats and rhymes wasn’t enough because I had all these other melodies in my mind”.

To differentiate herself from other MC’s, she adopted the name ‘Queen Latifah’ rather than ‘MC Latifah’ and also incorporated an awareness of being a descendent of Africa to her look. All Hail The QueenShe describes Hip-Hop as “a platform to express yourself. It wasn’t singing it was speaking. You can not only rap to brag and boast but you can actually say something.” This was something she picked up from other groups like Boogie Down Productions, KRS-One, Eric B. & Rakim, Public Enemy having described them all as not only creating hit records, but using their music to deliver a message.  

Soon after All Hail The Queen was released under Tommy Boy records and Latifah described having House Music be a heavy influence on the album. A couple years later under the same label, Nature Of A Sista was born which was the first album where the acting bug began to buzz. “How Do I Love Thee” was more so her reciting a poem as rapping over the beat didn’t seem to be fitting. “I just allowed my mind to go and make it jazzy and do some sort of rifts and scatting on it as opposed to making it a Hip-Hop record”.

One thing that was in Latifah’s side from the start of her career was her fan base. She didn’t necessarily have strictly urban fans which was a challenge to her record label at the time. Especially having a record like “Latifah’s Had It Up To Here” on the same album with “How Do I Love Thee”; two completely different extremes. Black ReignBlack Reign was released under Motown Records and there were many transitions going on during her life at this time with the recent loss of her brother. She felt like every record she created was a way for her to be free and creating records that she really enjoyed. Her first performance of the evening also from this album was “Just Another Day…” as the audience vibed along with the hook and live instruments performed by her full house band.

Latifah has earned several awards throughout her career and described the time she won a Grammy for Best Solo Rap Performance for “U.N.I.T.Y.” “It meant a lot because it was legitimizing Hip-Hop. Everybody used to say Hip-Hop was some kind of fad except for us who already knew it was not going anywhere.” By this time she was well into her acting career having appeared in movies such as Jungle Fever, Juice, and Will Smith’s Fresh Prince Of Bel Air. Then what may have been a turning point in her acting career was when she was presented with the opportunity to have her own hit sitcom, Living Single also starring Kim Coles, Erika Alexander and Kim Fields. Living Single“When Will [Smith] got his show we were like man, if Will can get a show we could get a show”, describing a brainstorm session she had with her partner Shakim back in the early 90’s. Her show became so successful that it surpassed Martin in urban households which was a popular show at that time. Soon after her role as Kleo came in the hit movie Set It Off which also solidified her skills behind the big screen as well.

Shortly after around 1997 her focus turned once again to her music. And throughout the years she went on to create three additional albums and more film roles came her way including one of her biggest roles as Matron “Mama” Morton in 2002’s Chicago. This role earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress and also rightfully led to a Star on Hollywood’s Walk Of Fame. Star on Hollywood Walk Of FameAs if her list of accolades wasn’t lengthy enough, she also signed on to become one of CoverGirl’s newest faces.

Earlier this year Latifah released her latest album, Persona where she returned to her joy of singing. She performed songs from the new album including “Cue The Rain”, “The Light” People” and “Fast Car”. Before Artist Confidential with Queen Latifah came to an end, she performed her Grammy-winning hit “U.N.I.T.Y.” where she included Reggae and Go-Go interjections much to the audience’s delight. With all her accomplishments she’s earned thus far in her career and the many more bound to come, it couldn’t have happened to a more humble, deserving star such as Dana Owens.

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4 Comments »

  1. Great story! A lot I didnt know about her thanks

    Comment by Your#1fan — October 6, 2009 @ 12:49 pm | Reply

  2. i love queen latifah. thats it

    Comment by leena — November 25, 2009 @ 3:04 am | Reply

  3. queen,i luv ur natural being cos ur a black woman glowing with natural beauty.i also love ur movies!

    Comment by hannah — January 6, 2010 @ 3:29 pm | Reply

  4. im doing a project and i need help

    Comment by akiana — February 20, 2010 @ 9:09 pm | Reply


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