Bringing Down The House: Celebrating Queen Latifah’s 54th Birthday With Her Best Music + Acting Performances

Bringing Down The House: Celebrating Queen Latifah’s 54th Birthday With Her Best Music + Acting Performances

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One of the most beloved and talented entertainers in the industry turned 54 today. To celebrate Queen Latifah’s legacy, check out a gallery highlighting the best performances of her music and acting careers.

Dana Elaine Owens was born in Newark, New Jersey. It was evident that music was going to be a big part of her life early on. She performed the number “Home” from the musical The Wiz in a grammar school play. After completing high school, she took some classes at Borough of Manhattan Community College. In 1988, she began beat boxing for the hip-hop group Ladies Fresh. She was an original member of the Flavor Unit, a crew of MCs grouped around producer DJ King Gemini. He made a demo recording Owens’ song ‘Princess of the Posse’ and gave it to Fab 5 Freddy. The track got the attention of Tommy Boy Records, where she eventually signed. She dropped her first single ‘Wrath of My Madness’ in 1989.

She released her debut album ‘All Hail the Queen’ at just 19 years old. The album peaked at number six on the Billboard Top Hip Hop/R&B Albums chart. Latifah made history with the track ‘Ladies First’ which features Monie Love. It became the first collaborative track by two female rappers not in a group. She went on to release six more albums and has a Grammy Award under her belt for the song ‘U.N.I.T.Y.’ Over the years, she made her mark in the game by rapping about issues that Black women faced including domestic violence, street harassment, and troubled relationships. Although musically she is most known for rapping, she is also a superb singer. Two of her seven albums (2004’s The Dana Owens Album and 2007’s Trav’lin’ Light) strictly contain cover versions of jazz standards, where Latifah shows off her versatility. If being a legendary artist wasn’t enough, Queen Latifah showed that she could merge into any lane she wanted to simultaneously.

Two years after her debut album was released, she began her acting career with supporting roles in the films House Party 2 and Jungle Fever. From 1993 to 1998, she starred in the FOX sitcom Living Single, where she played Khadijah James, a hard-working editor and publisher of the fictional urban independent magazine Flavor. While the show was on air, she starred in the box-office hit Set It Off. Although the role gained her critical acclaim, she gained mainstream success after being cast as Matron “Mama” Morton in Chicago, a musical film that won the Academy Award for Best Picture. She became one of five hip-hop/R&B artists (Will Smith, Jennifer Hudson, Jamie Foxx, Mary J. Blige) to be nominated in an acting category when she received a nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her role. Since then, she has continued to grace our screens and show us that she is a special breed of talent. In addition to winning an Emmy, a Golden Globe, three Screen Actors Guild Awards, and two NAACP Image Awards, she became the first hip hop artist to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2006.  To celebrate a generational talent on her special day, check out a gallery highlighting the best of her music and acting. HAPPY 54TH BIRTHDAY TO THEE QUEEN LATIFAH!

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