The American Grammy Award-winning rap artist and actress Dana Elaine Owens, better known as Queen Latifah, which in Arabic means delicate and sensitive was born in Newark, New Jersey on March 18, 1970. She was born to a police father who divorced with her housewife mother when she was eight years old. Grown up in a police family whose father and brother were cops had more or less influenced her life style and philosophy of life that made her became a tough person.
Latifah got her very first job as a Burger King employee for a period of time before she did succeed in singing the number "Home" from "The Wiz" in a school musical performance, which soon followed by her working as a human beatbox alongside Ladies Fresh. Her first career, indeed, began in 1989 when local DJ Mark the 45 King heard a demo version of her single "Princess of the Posse" and gave the demo to Fab Five Freddy, known as the host of Yo! MTV Raps and Fab 5. Freddy was the person behind Latifah success who helped her to get a contract sign with Tommy Boy Records, which in 1989 or when Latifah was 18, released her first album called "All Hail the Queen." This first album was critically acclaimed as one of the best hip hop albums of all time and was followed by the success of Latifah's another well received album called "Nature of a Sista." As an appreciation of her contribution in music, Latifah has been ranked #72 on VH1's 100 Greatest Women of Rock N Roll.
In 1992, Latifah police officer older brother Lance Owens died in an accident on the motorcycle she had just bought for him as a present. Drowned in a deep mourning of her brother death, this star thus was spotted to still wearing the motorcycle key around her neck and she even released an album named "Black Reign", which was specially dedicated to his loving brother and made famous partly by its single, U.N.I.T.Y. Sadly for the star, gloom occurrence still roamed around her afterwards when she was arrested in possession of a small amount of marijuana and a gun in 1996, one year after she became a victim of carjacking, leading her to get fined and sentenced to two years probation. Then, might be inspired by this incident, she released her 1998 album entitled "Order in the Court."
Kept trying to bounce back after her arrest, it was around this year that Latifah began to go towards better direction, especially in building her path in acting field. Finished her stint in FOX sitcom "Living Single" that she had joined since 1993, the talented performer wonderfully managed to land parts in a number of movies, such as "Sphere" (1998), "The Bone Collector" (1999), "The Country Bears" (2002), and "Brown Sugar" (2002). Performing in those movies, Latifah finally earned her first nomination for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 2003 through her performance as Matron "Mama" Morton in the movie musical "Chicago" (2002), making her as the first female rapper ever to be nominated for an Oscar in turn.
On the heels of her attainment at the Academy Awards, acting roles delightfully flew heavily for Latifah, allowing her to continuously appear on the big screen like in "Bringing Down the House" (2003), "Taxi" (2004), and "Beauty Shop" (2005), apart from her success to be chosen as one of many other artists to host and perform at the 47th Grammy Awards ceremony held at the Staples Center on February 13, 2005. Marking year 2006 with performances in "Last Holiday" and "Stranger Than Fiction" (2006) while voicing a female mammoth named Ellie in animated hit "Ice Age: The Meltdown" (2006), she next eagerly narrated Lance Rivera's romantic flick "The Perfect Holiday" besides joining starry cast of comedy musical "Hairspray", both came up in 2007.
2008, in the meantime, would turn to be quite a busy year for Latifah as she has wonderfully added more acting stints into her impressive resume. Included in the list are those for "Welfare Queen", "What Happens in Vegas...", and Mad Money", a remake of the 2001 British TV-movie feature "Hot Money" telling about three female employees who form plot to steal money that is about to be destroyed. Also taking time to produce action movie "Truck Turner" in the same year, she goes on to topline another comedic feature "All of Me" (2009) which she also executive produces alongside Shakim Compere.
It was another six years from her 1998 album when she released an album "The Dana Owens Album" which surprisingly saw her switching to soul/jazz. Surprising still, it was the record that brought her the largest sale of all her albums, selling 701,000 copies in U.S. alone. Latifah seemed to find a new direction in her music career that she is back in the same stream for her new album "Trav'lin' Light". Contained mostly cover songs from female artists that she adores, the record will be dropped September 25, 2007 with Jill Scott, Erykah Badu and Stevie Wonder among the collaboration list.