Today (Mar. 18), one of the most influential figures to emerge from hip-hop culture celebrates her 48th birthday, the iconic, Queen Latifah.

Hailing from Newark, New Jersey, Queen Latifah stepped into the scene with a musical offering that was unapologetically symbolic to socialism in the black community. Her 1988 debut 12-inch single “Wrath of My Madness,” revealed her ability to drop wordy melodic raps, deeming Latifah as a certified emcee. Her 1989 debut album, All Hail The Queen is filled with ballads that tackle social matters that were, and are still active in the likes of gender equality and racism. Primarily centered about gender equality, All Hail The Queen spawned what has become dubbed as the “feminist anthem,” “Ladies First” featuring Monie Love. Without a doubt, the allure and style of Queen Latifah is a type the hip-hop masses of the golden era could not ignore.

Drapped in Afrocentric garb with a loud crown that compliments her sweeping facial lineaments, Queen Latifah entered the 90s as a femcee in authority with her sophomore gem Nature of a Sista. With singles “Fly Girl,” “How Do I Love Thee,” and “Latifah’s Had It Up 2 Here,” the Queen evolved into a more sensual artist by incorporating blooming music genres New Jack Swing, along with hints of r&b and house. Her third album, Black Reign, solidified her position as a hip-hop icon with “U.N.I.T.Y.” another hit dubbed anthem for oneness. “U.N.I.T.Y.” was Queen’s opportunity to tackle issues in the likes of domestic violence, street harassment, and gender slurs imposed on women in hip-hop, earning her a Grammy win for Best Solo Rap performance in 1995.

Noted as one of the most successful acts too reign out of hip-hop, Queen Latifah commenced an honorable acting career starting with her classic FOX sitcom Living Single, to her role as Cleo in cult classic Set It Off, eventually winning several prestigious awards in the likes of a Globe Globe and Emmy for her stellar performances.

Queen Latifah has recently locked in a production deal with Lifetime for a one-hour special titled Unity, a special that will follow the jazzy hip-hop femcee’s journey as she remakes her 1993 hit single, “U.N.I.T.Y.” She will also executive produce documentary Where Did the Women of Hip-Hop, a documentary that weighs in on the history of the female rapper and the future of the female rapper.

The presence of Queen Latifah is certainly of a scale of grandeur. Her reign has reached an extent, younger generations cannot recall her days as an unapologetic rapper, but the renowned actress who still oozes inspiration. Such success makes her unquestionably one of the greatest figures to come out of hip-hop culture, posing a sense of pride for hip-hop.

Happy Birthday to one of the greatest emcees of all time, Queen Latifah.