She started beatboxing for the rap group Ladies Fresh. Latifah was one of the members of the original version of the Flavor Unit, a crew of Emcees grouped around producer DJ Mark the 45 King. Mark James, aka "DJ Mark the 45 King", made a demo recording of Queen Latifah's rap "Princess of the Posse". He gave the recording to the host of Yo! MTV Raps, Fab 5 Freddy. The song got the attention of Tommy Boy Music employee Dante Ross, who signed Latifah and in 1988 issued her first single, "Wrath of My Madness".
- "Ladies First"
- "Latifah's Had It Up 2 Here"
- "Black Hand Side"
- "Just Another Day..."
- "I Can't Understand"
- "Name Callin'"
- 1989: All Hail the Queen
- 1991: Nature of a Sista
- 1993: Black Reign
- 1998: Order in the Court
- 2004: The Dana Owens Album
- 2007: Trav'lin' Light
- 2009: Persona
Works Latifah has appeared in:
- The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1991) as Marissa Redman, Dee Dee
- Jungle Fever (1991) as Waitress
- House Party 2 (1991) as Zora
- Juice (1992) as Ruffhouse M.C.
- Living Single (1993-1998) as Khadijah James
- Hangin' with Mr. Cooper (1994) as herself
- The Critic (1995) as herself (voice)
- Set It Off (1996) as Cleopatra "Cleo" Sims
- Ellen (1997) as herself
- Hoodlum (1997) as Sulie
- Sphere (1998) as Alice "Teeny" Fletcher
- Living Out Loud (1998) as Liz Bailey
- The Bone Collector (1999) as Nurse Thelma
- Bringing Out the Dead (1999) as Dispatcher Love (voice)
- Spin City (2001) as Robin Jones
- The Country Bears (2002) as herself, Cha-Cha
- Pinocchio (2002) as Dove (voice; English dub)
- Chicago (2002) as Matron Mama Morton
- Bringing Down the House (2003) as Charlene Morton
- Scary Movie 3 (2003) as Aunt Shaneequa / The Oracle
- Barbershop 2: Back in Business (2004) as Gina Norris
- Beauty Shop (2005)
- The Fairly OddParents! (2004) as Pam Dromeda (voice)
- Taxi (2004) as Isabelle "Belle" Williams
- The Muppets' Wizard of Oz (2005) as Aunt Em
- Last Holiday (2006) as Georgia Byrd
- Ice Age: The Meltdown (2006) as Ellie (voice)
- Stranger Than Fiction (2006) as Penny Escher
- Hairspray (2007) as "Motormouth" Maybelle Stubbs
- Mad Money (2008) as Nina Brewster
- What Happens in Vegas (2008) as Dr. Twitchell
- The Secret Life of Bees (2008) as August Boatwright
- Saturday Night Live (2008) as Gwen Ifill
- Valentine's Day (2010) as Paula Thomas
- Entourage (2010) as herself
- 30 Rock (2010) as Regina Bookman
- The Dilemma (2011) as Susan Warner
- Joyful Noise (2012) as Vi Rose Hill
- Steel Magnolias (2012) as Mary Lynn "M'Lynn" Eatenton
- Jimmy Kimmel Live! (2014) as Sweet Brown
- 22 Jump Street (2014) as Mrs. Dickson
- Hot in Cleveland (2014) as Aunt Esther Jean Johnson
- Bessie (2015) as Bessie Smith
- The Wiz Live! (2015) as The Wiz
- STAR (2016-19) as Carlotta Brown
- Girls Trip (2017) as Sasha Franklin
- Flint (2017) as Iza Banks
- Sayonara Wild Hearts (2019) as Narrator (voice)
- Hollywood (2020) as Hattie McDaniel
- The Equalizer (2021-present) as Robyn McCall
- Maya and the Three (2021) as the Gran Bruja (voice)
- The Tiger Rising (2022) as Willie May
- Hustle (2022) as Teresa Sugerman
"All Hail the Queen's Tropes":
- The Big Girl
- Big Beautiful Woman: Her Chicago character provides the page image. She has slimmed down considerably in recent years, but she's still curvy enough to have this trope apply to her. Especially the "beautiful" part.
- Canon Discontinuity: Her early albums aren't easy to find in stores.
- Cover Album: The Dana Owens Album, Trav'lin' Light.
- Cluster F-Bomb: "Name Callin'" features Latifah cursing almost every other word. And it's quite sexy, really.
- Jazz Rap: Like the rest of the Native Tongues, Latifiah's first three albums were heavily drenched in jazz samples and influence. She'd drop the rapping after the turn of the millennium, and recorded straight jazz standards for her next two.
- Letters 2 Numbers: "Latifah's Had It Up 2 Here," "Listen 2 Me,"
- Royals Who Actually Do Something
- Self-Titled Album: The Dana Owens Album
- Statuesque Stunner: As the intro notes, she's 5'10 and quite attractive.
- Supergroup: Latifah's a charter member of both the Flavor Unit (45 King, Apache, Lakim Shabazz, etc) and the Native Tongues (De La Soul, ATCQ, Jungle Brothers, etc) collectives, and one of the few female emcees in either group. Latifah eventually became the leader of Flavor Unit after drug addiction took its toll on the 45 King.
- Sitcom: Living Single, 30 Rock
- Spelling Song: "U.N.I.T.Y."
- Take That!:
- "I Can't Understand" and "Rough" from Black Reign were responses to Roxanne Shantaé's diss to her on the latter's track "Big Lady":You don't wanna be a sista' in the name of rap
And yet you wanna talk shit and your style is wack
I would have squashed it before and made the whole issue dead
But now I'm fed, so it's off with your head
Now, the moral of the verse is your career is through
And don't be fuckin' with nobody who ain't fuckin' with you
If I was in yo shoes I'd let the BS start walkin'
Next time there might not be no talkin'.
- "Name Callin'" was allegedly a subliminal diss towards Foxy Brown. A Part 2 was recorded after Brown released a homophobic diss towards Latifah in response to the first. note I don't spit subliminals no doubt
This way you don't walk around wondering who the fuck I'm talkin' bout'
I'm not trippin', I heard you rippin'
But I'm into breakin' bitches, sending them back to their first career; strippin'.
- "I Can't Understand" and "Rough" from Black Reign were responses to Roxanne Shantaé's diss to her on the latter's track "Big Lady":