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Queen Latifah: Nature of A Singer

Queen Latifah
Queen Latifah
Queen Latifah onstage with bassist Christian McBride, Hollywood Bowl, July 2007

In the late ’80s, rap records were about recording over a beatbox rhythm and a musical loop with a repeated chorus. “I wanted to sing to it, I wanted more music in it, and I wanted more melody. I wanted more harmony, and not too many people were doing anything like that,” says Dana Owens, better known as Queen Latifah. Defying convention, Latifah sang her own hooks and choruses, adding reggae toasts and Brazilian melodies and pop harmonies to the material on her 1989 debut All Hail the Queen and the 1991 follow-up Nature of a Sista.

“I wasn’t just a rapper, you know. I hear music in my head; I hear songs. I always needed to combine that and I heard different genres,” she says, pointing to her club hit “How Do I Love Thee,” which was built over a Tania Maria piano groove. “I had an active imagination as a budding 17-year-old. I heard poetry and romance and sensuality.”

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