When Queen Latifah popped up on the scene in 1988, few people knew what to make of her. She was poised. She was centered. She was every bit of royalty that her name proclaimed her to be. And while, most would credit her persona to her beloved Jersey, there was a core to her being that was far more influential. Latifah was a queen because her mother raised her to be one.

Today,  it is with a heavy heart that we say good night to our mother, Rita Owens.

With all apologies extended (because we know this is a sensitive time particularly with you just celebrating your 48th birthday), but La you shared her with us all. Every album, every interview, every award and red carpet, you lifted your mother to the world and allowed us to see what a fabulous human being she was. And then any of us that had the great pleasure to see the two of you together, had no choice but to assume membership into your family. You became big sister and she became our mom.

As we grew in Hip-Hop, we took great caution to reference her life and generosity as a yardstick to measure how we should all move. Every time we heard you advocate for women, education and for racial equity… Ms. Rita was the footnote the essay of your life.

Perhaps it was the teacher in Miss O that made us feel like she belonged to all of us? Dana, you been sharing her with us for a long time.

Maybe it was the way that she lit up the room with her smile… or how articulately she spoke (always making us proud and imagine the possibility of sophistication!

Or perhaps it was just the Creator in her that beamed out over all over. Thank you, La for sharing your mom. She was a great woman, a mother to all of Hip-Hop and we are celebrate for all that she has represented and all that she pour into you, and by happenstance you pour into us.

Miss O transitioned from heart failure. Even during her sickness, she remained a beacon of service and worked with many organizations to bring awareness to the disease that she fought ferociously until the end.

We are praying for you, Latifah and all of the Flavor Unit family.