Monday, December 27, 2010

Who Was The First Woman To Rap on R&B Radio?

The one and only then Motown recording artist Teena Marie was the first woman to rap on R&B radio. In 1981 Lady T released "Square Biz" from the album "It Must Be Magic" which featured a rap over a funky beat. The song Square Biz reached the R&B top ten peaking at #3! The album "It Must Be Magic" went on to be the highest-selling album of Teena Marie's Motown tenure. She wrote and produced the entire album herself!

*Update*
A very persistent reader has a problem with my wording. Teena Marie is the first woman to rap and actually have a hit on R&B radio.

Blondie a group which includes female singer Debbie Harry charted on R&B billboard charts in 1981 the same year as Teena Marie. Blondie which is a group only peaked at  #33 while Teena Marie's "Square Biz" rocketed to #3




11 comments:

  1. Hmm, that is incorrect. Blondie was the first woman to rap on the track 'Rapture' which was released in January 1981 according to Wikipedia. She even gave a shot out to Fab Five Freddie (later would be host on YO MTV Raps) in her verse (he was also in the video). Unless Square Biz was released in January 1981, Blondie was the first. :)

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  2. The group Blondie which includes female singer Debbie Harry topped the pop charts. It charted on the R&B charts but only reaching #33

    Teena Marie's "Square Biz" reached #3 on the R&B Chart in 1981 the same year of Blondie's "Rapture".

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  3. I am happy to be the persistent reader. LOL.

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  4. actually Natalie Cole is the first artist male of female to rap on 1978's Thankful LP. Her rap on hit single "thankful' is debatable, but her famous rap on the gold single "our love" is clearly rap and rhyme hands down and remains one of the most popular (yet completely overlooked raps) too date. And "our love" went number one.

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  5. correction Natalie Cole's Thankful lp came out in 1977 and was the second of two platinum studio albums released in the same year, another milestone that stood nearly thirty years until equaled by Nelly in 2004.

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  6. In what world do you live in that singing fast is considered rapping. No Natalie Cole is a wonderful artist but she was not rapping.

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  7. well AFRESHMUSIC you just may not be old enough to remember, but for people who are; whether she sped it up on "Be Thankful" or slowed it down on "Our Love" it was clearly out of the normal cadence every other rNb singer had ever used. Songs don't have famous segments lasting 20 bars over a single beat, she raps on "Our Love" whether she knew it or not. It is introduced on a beat and the beat is repeated many bars- the blueprint of rap. Its a rap that is still recognizable today which is clearly separated from the melody of the song. Look at her video of "Our Love" on utube from Sinbad's Soul Fest she performs decades later, when she gets to the part at issue; it is clearly recognized, recited, and greeted by the audience as that famous Rap. Or what would you call it?

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  8. great debate! Hey Our love used to be the old jam, i mean everybody used to wait for that one part to come on, the whole neighborhood could sing it word for word at the same time! But I dont think it was the first rap, Sugar Hill Gang's rapper's Delight i believe came out first.

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  9. @redbuckatl My age has nothing to do with my music knowledge. My music knowledge is very vast. I know "Our Love" by Natalie Cole very well but that is not considered rapping. She was singing. It reminds me of the way Ella Fitzgerald recorded "Mack The Knife" live in 1960. It has a slight swing sound to it.

    So if that's considered rapping. Ella also had a R&B hit with Mack The Knife where she forgets her lyrics and improvise in 1960. Of course Ella wasn't rapping she was just swinging it.

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  10. My new friend AFRESHMUSIC, may be you are not old enough to know when "Our Love" came out, people used to wait for this specific part of the song to come just to recite it together; meaning anyone could join in at any moment because it was built on a beat rather than a melody. Mack the Knife is built on a melody whether the great Ella Fitzgerald always remembered the words or not. Further, you just proved my point, what Natalie did in "Our Love" was absolute and deliberate. At this point of the song, she is no longer singing, she is delivering a rhyme on a beat- it can work no other way. At the time, we didn't know what she was doing, and I am sure she didn't know what she was doing, but what we did know, was that we waited on this part of the song in order to recite it on a deliberate beat (and if your knowledge of music allows you to understand that) this technique later became rap. It may not be a complete song of rapping like Rapper's Delight in 1979, which offered the same technique; deliberate and measured beats per bar, allowing everyone to recite it at the same time; but Natalie scored the first famous RAP that could have everyone reciting in unison on a specific beat absent a melody. And here it is:

    Cause love is soft, love is sweet
    Love is nice and love is gentle
    Love is joy, love is pain
    Love is laughing in the rain

    I've got love on my mind
    Love is always right on time
    Love is you and love is me
    Love is just a little baby
    I've got love on my mind
    Love is always right on time
    Love is you and love is me
    Love is gonna set you free ya

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  11. If that is not rapping then neither is Nelly Nor 50 cents

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