Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Queen Latifah

  • All Hail the Queen [Tommy Boy, 1989] A-
  • Nature of a Sista' [Tommy Boy, 1991] Dud
  • Black Reign [Motown, 1993] ***
  • Order in the Court [Motown, 1998] B+
  • The Dana Owens Album [Universal/A&M, 2004] Dud

Consumer Guide Reviews:

All Hail the Queen [Tommy Boy, 1989]
"And when I say I'm `Queen' Latifah, it has nothing to do with rank. It has to do with how I feel spiritually." That's her claim, and I'm a believer. It's a relief to hear a woman grab onto the mother-worship that's an unhonored subtext of male rap Afrocentrism--the feminist instincts of "Ladies First," a duet with Brit sister Monie Love, and "Evil That Men Do," with KRS-One's music underpinning the budding matriarch's message, are years overdue. Her Afrocentrism is beatwise, too--eager reggae, deep house, "Chicken Scratch." De La Soul, Daddy-O, and her steady mixer Mark the 45 King prove they're good enough for her by playing consort for a track apiece. A-

Nature of a Sista' [Tommy Boy, 1991] Dud

Black Reign [Motown, 1993]
real Intelligent Black Woman, expedient Gangsta Bitch ("Coochie Bang . . . ," "U.N.I.T.Y.," "Black Hand Side") ***

Order in the Court [Motown, 1998]
A success story whose taste in beats has always run pop, she vowed to "burn MC's like calories" and was off the charts in a month for her trouble. Oh well--if Chuck D can't get respect with Spike Lee behind him, what can a fat-flaunting, sitcom-fronting, dyke-playing woman expect? Here's hoping she swings every way she wants and recommending her sexual ambivalence to females everywhere. Things get bland and icky, especially when designated ingenue Inaya Jafan makes nice to the fellas, but the thematic "Yes/No" is educational right down to its tender skit. And for what it's worth, by the end of the record she seems to be proposing to the guy it's aimed at. Really, 28 isn't too old--and Latifah knows it. B+

The Dana Owens Album [Universal/A&M, 2004] Dud