Thanks to an article from Cracked.com: The 5 Most Unintentionally Hilarious ’80s Music Videos, I’ve discovered a disturbing chronologically of rap music.
Wham! was a group from the early 1980s by a couple of Brits by the names of George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley. They are probably best known for their hit song “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” released in May of 1984. That was on the second album, “Make It Big”. But on their first album was a little ditty called “Wham Rap! (Enjoy What You Do)” which was released in June of 1982. Here’s the video:
Okay, hold up. Let’s talk about the genre of ‘rapping‘:
Rapping can be traced back to its African roots. Centuries before hip hop music existed, the griots of West Africa were delivering stories rhythmically, over drums and sparse instrumentation. Such connections have been acknowledged by many modern artists, modern day “griots”, spoken word artists, mainstream news sources, and academics.
Creation of the term hip hop is often credited to Keith Cowboy, rapper with Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five…It is believed that Cowboy created the term while teasing a friend who had just joined the U.S. Army, by scat singing the words “hip/hop/hip/hop” in a way that mimicked the rhythmic cadence of soldiers marching. Cowboy later worked the “hip hop” cadence into a part of his stage performance, which was quickly used by other artists such as The Sugarhill Gang in “Rapper’s Delight”.
This style of music didn’t go mainstream here in the U.S. until the early 1980’s…
As best as I can tell, here’s the timeline for mainstream rap…
- late 1970’s – Percussion beats from late-70’s funk/disco/soul music were highlighted as a musical genre as introduced by DJ Kool Herc in the Bronx, NYC.
- 1979 – Sugar Hill Gang – “Rappers Delight” (generally regarded as the song that began the popularization of hip-hop yet still underground)
- 1980 – Kurtis Blow – “The Breaks” (the first certified gold record rap song)
- 1981 – Blondie feat. Grandmaster Flash– “Rapture” (first rap video to appear on MTV and very successful on the US radio waves)
- 1982 – Wham! – Wham Rap! (Enjoy What You Do) (didn’t chart in the US but went Top 10 in both the UK and Australia)
- 1984 – Michael Jackson feat. Vincent Price – “Thriller” (personally, this was the first song that I heard something referred to as ‘rap’ and had incredible success)
- 1984 – “Breakin'” the movie was released (the first rap-oriented movie released)
- 1985 – LL Cool J – “I Can’t Live Without My Radio” (this first rap album to go platinum)
- 1985 – Run-D.M.C.- “King of Rock” (their second album and it went platinum and arguably is the first rap group to go mainstream with their third album, “Raising Hell” in 1986)
- 1986 – Beastie Boys – Licensed to Ill (certified platinum album)
So as far as I can tell, rap/hip-hop has its underground roots in the late 70’s and early 80’s. It’s just so crazy to see a group like Wham! appearing early in the underground development of this genre with the likes of Grandmaster Flash, The Sugerhill Gang, Kurtis Blow, LL Cool J, and Run-D.M.C.