It was 1988, rap music's watershed year for album releases. Public Enemy, Ice T, NWA, EPMD and Stetsasonic were all releasing their best material in the form of full length albums.
Twelve-inch singles were still the sole vehicle for promoting and distributing the music, and a successful single most times led to a full-length release. It had only been four years since Roxanne Shanté released "Roxanne's Revenge," rap's first answer/diss record — and although Shnanté wasn't the first female MC, her release marked one of the first times that female MCs were taken seriously in the male-dominated genre.
Sparky Dee had made some noise, originally as part of the Roxanne saga, and MC Lyte had just debuted the year before in 1987. Salt-N-Pepa had been kicking down doors for a couple of years, but female MCs were establishing their identities, and fighting to be taken as seriously as their male counterparts.
Latifah's 1988 Tommy Boy Records debut single "Wrath of My Madness"/"Princess of The Posse" hit underground Hip-Hop like an atomic bomb and immediately solidified Latifah as one to watch for. Flavor Unit MC Latee and legendary producer DJ Mark released the underground classic "This Cut's Got Flavor" in the previous year, and Latifah's opening line of "Wrath of My Madness" connects Latifah, Mark and The Flavor Unit for those who may not have already been in the know.
"My mellow Latee was kicking flavor, the R.E. posse said 'Yo Latifah we can do this' so I paused in the thought and in my brilliance I caught and I agreed because I already knew this."
The single introduced Latifah's witty wordplay, distinctive and powerful voice and her ability to sing and flip reggae flows on command. "Princess of The Posse" with its flip of the theme from the Barney Miller television program saw La go even further into her singing and reggae bag and completed a powerful debut single that caused demand for a full-length album.
The album's lead single "Dance For Me" with its interpolation Sly & The Family Stone's "Dance To The Music" dropped in 1989 and marked Latifah's first music video. The newly formed Yo! MTV Raps and other video programs embraced the video and it received heavy airplay on those outlets furthering the demand for the upcoming album.
Tommy Boy was a powerful label with a talented roster and the album was a family affair."
When All Hail The Queen dropped, it was everything that we wanted upon hearing the already-released singles. Tommy Boy was a powerful label with a talented roster, and the album was a family affair. "The Pro's" featuring her labelmate Daddy-O of Stetsasonic is a slow-tempo reggae-flavored duet with the two MCs trading verses and boasting of their skills on the mic device. "Mama Gave Birth To The Soul Children" is a duet with De La Soul, one of Tommy Boy's hottest acts at the time. The uptempo duet also served as the last single from the album with two extra versions.
"Come Into My House" was a huge hit, which capitalized off of the popular house music boom of the time. The single peaked at #7 on Billboard U.S. Dance and at #21 U.S. Rap charts. The song and video further cemented Latifah as a singer and introduced her to new audiences. The women's anthem, "Ladies First," is a duet that introduced the States to Monie Love, an import to the U.S. from the U.K. who became part of The Native Tongues collective that included De La Soul, The Jungle Brothers and A Tribe Called Quest. "Ladies First" peaked on Billboard at #5 U.S. Rap and #64 R&B.
"Latifah's Law," Queen of Royal Badness" and "The Evil That Men Do" featuring KRS-ONE all solidified Latifah's then-important street credibility within the genre and highlighted the genius of the immensely talented 45 King as a producer.
All Hail The Queen peaked at #6 on the Billboard Rap chart and #124 on the Billboard 200. The album would mark the end of her work with 45 King, much to the disappointment of her core audience, and it is still revered as her best album by many fans.