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Queen Latifah

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Famed rapper, singer, model and actress Dana Elaine Owens, better known by her stage name Queen Latifah, was born on March 18, 1970, in Newark, New Jersey. Her debut album All Hail to the Queen sold more than 1 million copies, and the single U.N.I.T.Y. earned Latifah her first Grammy Award. Latifah has also garnered acclaim for acting; she earned her first Oscar nomination (best supporting actress) for her performance in the blockbuster musical Chicago. She has also earned a Golden Globe award, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, two Image Awards, six additional Grammy nominations, an Emmy Award nomination and an Academy Award nomination.

Latifah was born and raised in the public housing projects of Newark, New Jersey, the daughter of Rita, a schoolteacher who worked at Irvington High School, and Lancelot Owens, a policeman. Her parents divorced when Latifah was ten. Latifah performed the number “Home” from the musical The Wiz in a high school play. Her stage name, Latifah (لطيفة), meaning “kind” in Arabic, was given to her when she was eight by her cousin. Latifah was raised in the Baptist church, and, while in high school, was a power forward on her basketball team.

She started her career beatboxing for the rap group Ladies Fresh. Latifah was one of the members of the original version of the Flavor Unit MC’s, which, at that time, was a crew of MC’s grouped around producer DJ Mark The 45 King. In 1988, DJ Mark the 45 King heard a demo version of Latifah’s single Princess of the Posse and gave the demo to Fab 5 Freddy, who was the host of Yo! MTV Raps. The recording captured the attention of Tommy Boy Music employee Dante Ross, who immediately signed Latifah, and in 1988 issued her first single, Wrath of My Madness.

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