first-rap-song

Was The First Rap Song Really Rappers Delight?



Before I disclose which artist released the first rap song I gotta set it up some quick rap history for you. See before there were rap songs there was emcee’s. An emcee’s job was to be the voice of the party while the DJ focused on spinning records. Emcees wouldfirs-rap-song recognize special guests at the parties, make announcements, and often would spit short freestyles about what was going on at the party. Coke La Rock is known for being the first rapper to ever spit rhymes after teaming up with DJ Kool Herc in 1973 and both are recognized as the original founding fathers of Hip Hop.

Rap music was originally underground. Rapping was something that was done at parties as a way to engage with the crowd and keep the party hype. After Coke La Rock spit his first rhymes others began to pick it up quickly. Before you knew it cats was popping up at parties everywhere in New York rapping. This new thing called rapping caught the attention of record companies but they thought it was a fad and wasn’t interested in investing money into it.

first-rap-songIt wasn’t until 6 years after Coke La Rock spit his first rhymes that the first official commercially released rap song emerged. In the summer of 1979 the Fatback Band released a rap song entitled “King Tim III (Personality Jock). The Fatback Band was a Funk band but was wanting to try something different with this record so they reached out to a talented rapper at the time named Tim Washington. This song was originally released on the b-side of their album but after the huge responses it received in the clubs it was rereleased on the a-side and became a top 30 hit on r&b charts.

Most people think that Sugarhill Gang’s song “Rappers Delight” was the first mainstream rap song when in fact it wasn’t released until the winter of 1979 only months after “Kim Tim III (Personality Jock)” was released. Rappers Delight went on to reach the top 40 billboard charts the following year in 1980. Though “Rappers Delight” wasn’t technically the first commercially released rap song however it can be said that Sugarhill Gang was the first rap group to have a commercial first-rap-songrelease.

There is no doubt that “Rapper’s Delight” is much more popular than “Kim Tim III (Personality Jock)” but why do you think that is? Kim Tim III was rapped over original music played by The Fatback Band while Rappers Delight was rapped over samples from the very popular song “Good Times” by Chic. Do you think the “Good Times” sample helped Rappers Delight become more popular or do you think it’s just simply a better song? Do you think by Sugarhill Gang sampling “Good Times” that it set the popular sampling trend in Hip-Hop? I would love to hear your thoughts so make sure you drop your 2 cents in the comments section below.

    • Yeah I know that’s crazy right? And Hip Hop records have been using samples ever since lol Do you think the record became so popular because of the use of the sample which people was already familiar with?

        • Thanks for chiming in and sharing your knowledge! So are you saying that “Rappers Delight” didn’t contain any samples of “Good Times” and everything was played live?

          • Wow!! That’s crazy!! Thanks so much for sharing Pigmeat Markham! I’ve never heard him discussed or given credit before. I think you’re right this could be the 1st recorded rap. Dude is actually spittin! That’s crazy!! I gotta revise this article now 🙂

        • Wow that’s crazy! He is rapping! That’s really cool! I’m still digging into the history of rapping and will end up revising this article. Thanks so much for your feedback I greatly appreciate it! 🙂

          • That was 1968 thus not superseding Pigmeat. Sound is more poetry than rap and some of the content was taken from a Spiritual/Gospel song “I’ve Been Buked”

          • I just check into that and your right. The previous person seemed to have the release date wrong. Have you ever heard anything that strongly resembles rap that was released before Pigmeat? Pigmeat is still the oldest one I have found and on a complete random side note it’s hard for me to say his name without chuckling lol 🙂

          • Well Pigmeat was actually a comedian so the name was meant to invoke laughter from the Jump. Haven’t heard anything before that but it doesn’t mean it does exist, but so far that would be the 1st from my research and opinion

        • Actually the “Here Comes The Judge” by Pigmeat entered the charts in July of 68′ and “Say It Loud And I’m Black And I’m Proud” was actually released in August of 68′ (Not 1965 as was mentioned) so Pigmeat was about a month earlier. Spoken word in the 1950’s was also a precursor to rap. There were also the moments in some songs where the singer would add a sad spoken commentary about losing his girl or some similar subject… That was mainly on African American recordings and Elvis picked it up if I understand it correctly. There was also an early song about a power blackout in the late 1970’s that was part of bigger musical but it was basically rap but that would not predate the earliest people you mentioned in the early 70’s. Bob Dylan also did have some elements of Rap in songs like “Subterranean Homesick Blues”… Not saying Dylan invented Rap but he was channeling a lot of different influences in a new way including the spoken word of the Beatnik generation which was an inter-racial effort. He is singing but it still has some rap feel.

          • Also… I didn’t date “Subterranean Homesick Blues”… That was 1965 and it was earlier in 65′ because he released another album later in the year. Listen for yourself and see/hear what you think. I made the observation by myself but I’ve checked online and I’m not the only one who thinks it sounds like Rap.

  • Also check https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rapping . I remember my Uncle was heavily influenced by some of the poetry movements during black power activism during the 60’s, he actually brought the Last Poets to our house. You had Reggae chants, you had comedians doing poetry/rap. Just a tidbit.

    • Thanks for sharing this with me as well. That’s really cool that you had the Last Poets in your house! Wow! It seems like poets performing over music in the 60’s is what lead to rapping doesn’t it? I can’t wait to dig deeper back into this. There’s a lot of misinformation out and I want to be as accurate as possible in each and every post I write. So thanks so much for sharing your knowledge with me. Much respect!

      • Yes, very crazy. My early thoughts was poetry, and reggae chants being the early rapping. You hear Fatback Band & Blondie with Rapture. No disrespect to her she enjoyed the culture but instead of getting a rapper to perform it, she had someone write it for her and perform it. In school that’s called plagiarism. I had the pleasure of meeting Mickey Benson who is Melle Mel’s older brother and was managing Big Pun at the time and set me up with an interview R.I.P. Mickey then proceed to call Crazy Legs, Bizzy B, G.L.O.B.E, the original Jazzy Jeff, Kool Moe Dee, Grand Wizard Theodore, Afrika Bambaataa and Kool Herc! The break down of the origins of hip-hop was Sick! I also was one of the founders of Scribble Jam which help discover the likes of Eminem, Rhymefest, Hi-Tek, Atmosphere & others. Glad I ran across this post.

        • Yeah from what i’m continuing to learn the beginning of rapping seems to stem from there as well. The question on my mind at the moment is if Coke La Rock was documented rapping for the first time around 1973-1975 and Pigmeat Markham – Here Comes The Judge + The Trial was in 1968 then why is KRS ONE saying that Coke La Rock was the first person to actually rap? Maybe I’m missing something that you may have more knowledge of. I’m a 80’s baby so I missed a lot of this history being made and I’m just trying to get the facts straight but as you know as time goes on history can become more distorted so I’m just trying to be as factual as possible.

          Wow that’s crazy you was able to chop it up with all those legends! Did you document any of your interviews? I would love to check those out! That’s awesome! 🙂 And that’s really cool that you was involved with the inception of Scribble Jam! How did it all come into play in the beginning? I was reading on their site that DJ MR.Dibbs along with Scribble Mag founded it. Was you affiliated with the magazine in some capacity? I also noticed they don’t have any updates since 2008. Is Scribble Jam no longer an event? It seemed to be huge! If they’re no longer around what happened?

          Thanks again for all of your comments! I have found them very informative and helpful. Glad you ran across this post as well 🙂

          • Some vary on this position. KRS-One may say that of Coke La Rock if he was from the Bronx. He firmly asserts Bronx created Hip-Hop which is the culture with Rap or lyricism being one of the main components. You’ll get Blondie & Rapture from some. Adam Ant – Ant Rap, Frank zappa, King Tim III by Fatback band. Rappers Delight is probably what set it off into the mainstream. My honest opinion it was pieced together by a few different experiences, poetry/spoken word from the late 60’s, Reggae influences due to the influx of Jamaicans into New York, dj’s mixing up the breaks at the clubs & park jams.

            I feel out with the owner of Scribble Jam in 2001. Everyone knew I ran Scribble Jam. I taught everyone how to orchestrate this huge event. Me & Dibbs go back to around 1988 or 89, he was my Dj when I was rapping. Then we started a few radio shows together and a record pool around 1996/97. Here Scribble tell it I was never involved, never ran it. We had the meetings mainly at my house, I organized, delegated, paid most of the bills up front out of my pocket. The event peaked around 2004 maybe, they didn’t know how to run it and keep the soul of the event and lot of people from my era said it never felt the same. It died in 2008 do to poor planning. I you do a little digging you’ll see. Check this google search https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=G-Fresh+scribble+jam

            Peace

          • Thanks again for a very insightful comment! I sincerely appreciate it! I’ve recently been swayed towards your theory of the different influences of rap early on. I will continue to keep digging to gain more insight so thanks for sharing your thoughts with me. I found them to be very helpful!

            I checked out the google search as you suggested and sure enough I seen you mentioned in a lot of the articles concerning scribble jam. It sucks that things went down like they did between you and that Scribble Jam has since stopped. Have you been involved with anything else Hip Hop related since that time?

  • Pigmeat Markham was a regular on season 2 (1968-1969) of Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In, and he performed the song in full at least once, and “Here Come the Judge” became a catchphrase on most, if not all episodes that season. When rap first started emerging into the mainstream, Here Comes the Judge jumped back into my consciousness.

    • Thanks so much for sharing that information! I’m wanting to learn much more about Pigmeat Markham. Is there any documentary or autobiography on him any where? And was Pigmeat the first person you ever heard rap before or do you know of anyone else before him rapping our what lead him to initially develop his rap style? Thanks once again! I really appreciate it! 🙂

      • Pigmeat Markham was primarily a comedian, and the Judge character was his signature schtick. My understanding is that the song “Here Come the Judge” was released after the Judge character was popularized on Laugh In, first by Sammy Davis Jr, and then by Pigmeat himself. The song was a top 20 hit in the late 60’s. Pigmeat did a few other songs, but none of them charted.

        Wikipedia and AllMusic.com both have short, but informative bios on Pigmeat, although neither give any insight into his influences.

        • Thanks again Hisboi L Roi for the information. This is really cool information that you’ve been sharing with me! Thanks so much! I’m looking forward to digging into it some more! 🙂

          • Another example of a rock song that is close to rap is “Reader’s Digest” – a track from Larry Norman (probably the earliest Christian Rocker if you don’t count Elvis’ Gospel stuff) from Larry Norman’s 1972 album ‘I’m Visiting This Planet’. It is extremely similar to “Subterranean Homesick Blues” by Dylan. The acoustic guitar part is almost identical. Again you probably can find it on YouTube and see what you think. Best Wishes on your vocation as an artist.

          • Hey James, Thanks so much for all the information that you shared through all of your comments! I’ve found out through my studies and through all of you and everyone else’s feedback that rapping goes way back! As early as the 40’s! And who knows how long it was around before it was ever recorded? I find it very fascinating to see how long it’s really been around! Thanks again for all of your input! I will be checking out all of you references that you shared asap. Wishing you the best on all that you do as well! Thanks for reading and commenting!! 🙂

  • Here’s some proto-rap that runs the spectrum from, respectively, black, blackface, white (lily white pretty much), to Italian

    1947: The Preacher and the Bear by the Jubalaires (rap begins at 0:24)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XNzKZ7lJRUc
    1936: The Gypsy by Emmett Miller and the Georgia Crackers (rap begins at 1:33 after a bit of signifyin’)*
    1962: Rock Island from The Music Man (rap begins at 0:50)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZ9U4Cbb4wg
    1972: Prisencolinensinainciusol by Adriano Celetano (proto disco/ proto rap)

    • Thanks so much Hisboi L Roi, you just took me even deeper from the questions I just asked you on the last post. This is incredible! I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to share this with me!

      I’m looking forward to digging even deeper into this history. I had no idea people was rapping that long ago! Feel free to share any other information you may have about the origins of rap. THANK YOU!! 🙂

      • Hi Cole,

        I suspect that rhyming to beats in some form or another goes back to the beginning of music. There are certainly many examples in the early history of recorded music, although only a few have rap-like cadences. I don’t think those four examples I gave you have any connections to each other, or had any influence on contemporary rap, which makes them all the more fascinating to me. How did four such disparate artists independently come up with something so familial?

        • Hey Hisboi L Roi, I agree for all we know it could have been around since the beginning and I find it fascinating as well seeing all the different ways people have been interacting with music. Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge and insight! It’s greatly appreciated 🙂

    • Hey Mo Zaic, we’ve been discussing Pigmeat a lot here in the comments section. Thanks for sharing that with me. We’ve found recordings of rapping dating as far back as the 40’s! It’s crazy! 🙂

  • Actually the Whitewash Station Blues by THE MEMPHIS JUG BAND had raps in their songs. Their song came out in 1927.

    • Wow! Thanks for sharing that with me Blue! It just keeps going back further and further! I’ve just added that song to my archive. Thanks so much for sharing that with me. I will be updating this article soon 🙂

  • I propose the theme from “Are You Being Served” (1972) It should be covered by Pet shop Boys and Daft Punk.

  • Wow, this thread is getting so polluted with mis-information. The 1st song was not rappers delight and by far not the 1st rap song period, It was the most recognizable and 1st recorded that was labeled as a genre hip-hop & rap. There mere fact someone is giving credit to “Are You Being Served” as a RAP song is insane. The beat is dope but that is NOT a rap song. Memphis Jug Band…had jugging, not rapping. Rap was an actual intention to do it, not an accident. When Blondie did Rapture, she PURPOSELY did the rap. It’s still open to debate but I think at this point people are putting up blurbs about hearing a segment and saying that’s rapping and that’s where it came from when it didn’t. It was a an urban art form along with dj’s scratching records, graffiti artists tagging, mc’s competing, b-boys & b-girls dancing to the way the dj would spin and cut the breaks (thus the B in b-boy & b-girl, they danced to the break, not the whole song) and some beat boxing, not sure when that really manifested but from recorded history it must have been early as well. You have to remember this came from an Urban, gang infested area of little means. No instruments, no lessons, no bands. Speakers, 2 turntables & a microphone, making something from nothing like the havenots have always done with music, food, style, living.

    Now here is the caveat. Hip-Hop is a mesh of all types of music, from blues, rhythm & blues, go-go, funk, disco, classic rock, doo-wop, country, pop, latin & caribbean, the early forms of electronic and dance (which those actually came out about the same time and influenced each other) African music (biggest influence of the drum beat), folk, big band, Spoken word poetry movement of the mid 60’s to early 70’s, etc… So ANYTHING was fair game to sample, re-do, construct from, etc… But to say that any of those was the 1st rap song is not plausible. The 1st rap songs were done by people that knew that they were RAPPING, it was never on accident or some interesting ditty in a particular song, otherwise why didn’t they do that in the rest of their recordings? Rappers created RAP ALBUMS, not just one song with rapping in it. Until some one comes up with significant evidence that someone earlier than the songs I initially posted (Pig Meat Markum…a comedian who probably did it as a joke) or Fatback Band – King Tim !!! I’m not buying it, what next Elvis created rap? If anyone watches Unsung on TVOne they just had Sugarhill Gang on and they spilled the beans on what hip-hop historians already knew. It was not the 1st rap, maybe the 1st official one recorded and like a lot of cultural, ethnic music recorded by white folks, it was stolen. I interviewed the guy on radio that wrote Big Bank Hanks verse. Also watch Vinyl, they have Stretch Armstrong & Dj Kool Red Alert as consultants. Vinyl on HBO features a young Kool Herc. I’m Done. Ralo!!! Which means I’m out, watch your Sanford & Song (Steptoe & Son for the British but with Redd Foxxx, way funnier)

    • Man I always appreciate you chiming in and dropping knowledge and perspective! You really go in! Do you have a blog or any content up on the internet? You have a lot to say and I’d enjoy checking out more from you. I certainly don’t know it all and am always trying to learn. I’ve never heard the term “jugging” before so I’ve gotta look into that. I think this thread has gone a little off topic but I think it’s leading to some really interesting dialog about the origins of rap. I completely agree with everything you said about “rap songs” in comparison to much earlier songs that just had parts in them that incorporated rap. I’m really interested in just tracing back the origin of rapping to it’s earliest form I can find. I totally agree that “rap songs” didn’t pop up until Hip-Hop came along but at the same time Hip-Hop was a mesh of all types of flavors and sounds with blues being one of them which did incorporate rhyming in a rhythm and of course spoken word artists were doing some really cool stuff with speaking their poetry over music. I just find it all fascinating especially being an 80’s baby myself there’s so much history and stories I haven’t heard yet. So thanks again AnThenWhatt for chiming in and sharing your insight! You need to start a YouTube Hip Hop History Channel bro! That would be awesome! Ralo!!! 🙂

    • Many folks will focus on what was the first record of the rap form that directly became the hip hop popular form. ‘Rappers Delight’ may have been the first big signal record within that specific genre, but I guess hip hop nerds know there were several records cut before it. So be it. (An aside – there is no sampling on Rappers Delight. The sampler was not a commercial reality for several calendars after that. Rappers Delight is a band of players ripping the riffs!)
      A smaller number of folks will talk about forms of rapping before hip-hop rapping. Now, as noted above, people can get scatological at this point, and start throwing everything resembling any kind of spoken thing into the pot. Forget about all that. Yet there is rhythmic rhyming that became rap, and it clearly predates hip hop rapping, and is the most distinct of several threads that lead to it.The rhythmic rhyming of rap obviously comes from a few places itself. Many folks will focus on prison and school rhymes, and the dozens. You hit an acceleration towards the form, when the bebop scat singers of the 1940’s started using elements of these things with word rhymes between their wordless scat improvisations. Now after this, the primary evolution that built on this is right down to one man – Chicago’s Oscar Brown Jr. OBJ was primarily a crossover pop r&b jazz singer, albeit a left-wing politically motivated one.Every so often, he’d take his band down to the rhythm section, and he would rap on very explicit black power issues.When he did this, he made deep and insistent rhythmic accentuation cutting further into his rhymes than the scat singers did. He would do this consistently for entire performance pieces. I guess because the material was so ‘out there’ for the early 60’s, he only sneaked out a couple of examples on wax. Nonetheless,I,- along with many others – will contend that he is the man who crystallized the form we now know as rapping, regardless of genre within or without hip-hop.
      As the 60’s wore on, you had lots of black power poetry and comedy rappers, and lots of them! However Oscar Brown Jr predates them all. Ask the ones who are still alive today. They’ll tell you so. Lastly, it really doesn’t matter that he only got to record a couple of examples of his raps, it was a solid practiced thread within his art, as it also was for The Last Poets, Gil Scott Heron, Pigmeat Markham et al, later in the 1960’s. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pll1T1-bU2M

  • To the best of my knowledge the first rap in a song stated this

    Have you ever went over to a friends house to eat and the just was no good
    I mean the macaroni soggy the peas are smushed and the chick in tast like wood
    Know you try to play it off by saying that you already ate
    but your friend says he’s just being polite and put some more on your plate

    Well if my memory is correct these words are the first words to go main stream on the radio per say for the life of me I can’t remember the name of the song. O.H.B.B.O.Y. Our Help Betters Our Youth

  • I have been fiddling with this idea for a long time simply because the history of Rap and Hip-Hop is such a debated topic. No, the first “rap” song was not “Rappers Delight”, but it is the song that instigated the popularity of that style of performance and made it a money making juggernaut.

    If you want to delve into the history of things we have to start laying down some context. “Hip-Hop” usually references the culture surrounding the music and includes the dancing, graffiti, fashion, slang, the whole nine. If you want to talk solely about the music aspect, we need to agree on a definition. “Rap” is usually the term thrown about for this, so I will use that as my premise.

    The issue is, music versus lyrics. Does one aspect make a song a rap song more than another? The very essence of the genre would say that the lyrical style is what defines a song as Rap, but even this is debated. We can start with the lyrics then talk about the music though.

    The term “Rap” is by definition, short for “Repartee” and the use of the word dates back to the 16th century in reference to someone with wit, or someone skilled at making clever and funny remarks. To go deeper into this history there is the the term “Flyting” which is essentially a verbal battle that the Scottish engaged in that is very much like the deuces. Insults thrown back and forth and the funnier or the more harsh the better.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flyting

    Okay, so what?

    Well, Rap seems to have various styles to the lyrics. Some raps tell stories. Some raps are about beef. Some raps are about having fun. Some raps are about politics. The list goes on and on. You can find examples of this in other music, and you can even see the spoken word being set to rhythms all throughout music from the late 1800’s to 1979 when supposedly Rap was invented.

    In the late 1800’s trains were becoming popular, and there was something about the rhythmic sound of a train on tracks that led a lot of musicians to write songs to that rhythm and even the lyrics were coming out in a chuggy-chug fashion with less sing-songy style and more of a poetic spit.

    It would be impossible to pin down the first instance of Rap or Rap style lyrics because it has been a tool used by musicians for as long as music has been around.

    Now, if you want to talk about the music aspect of it, the only thing that is really pertinent here is the fact that Rap has always been about taking bits of music from existing material, twisting it up, looping it, and reinventing a song. This was perfected in the 1980’s but began really in the 1970’s. Before that music had to be made by musicians, and it was the introduction of electronics capable of sampling and looping that Rap truly becomes a genre of its own.

    That is really all there is to it. You can argue about what influenced Rap, whether it be the Blues, Jazz, Jamaicans, The Beatniks, the late 60’s civil rights feel, UK Punk, all that stuff, and you would be right. All of those elements were mixing in the culture in NYC and even in the LA and Oakland areas back then. Those elements developed into what was considered “Black Music”, funk, groove, disco, and it just so happened that Rap developed out of what was popular at the time.

    Disco was king, and the DJs and MCs were working with what was shaking booties on the dance floor. Almost all of the recorded Rap songs from 1979 through 1983 were Disco jams where someone decided to throw a rap down. Do we consider Disco Rap? If there was another genre popular in the clubs at the time would that then be the backdrop for the lyrical style that came out of that era?

    In terms of Blondie, the UK actually has had way better race relations than the United States, so it is no wonder they picked up on the vibe. They had been digging the blues forever, and let’s not forget that Jimi Hendrix only had a career because he started off in England. Early on Afrika Bambaataa, hooked up to make a song with the lead singer of the Sex Pistols in 1984.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5S-q1gRxvw

    Strange bedfellows, but the New Wave movement was also trying to break free, and the New Wave movement is what pushed the electronic aspect of music forward which was then taken on by Rap and led to the junk we have today.

    Tis whole topic is sooo deep and we could go on for days about any one little aspect. Fun to discuss tho.

    • Wow DB, thanks so much for your…well I wouldn’t call it a comment since it was more like an article in and of it’s self :). You hit on so many great points and as you stated it gets really deep! It’s like going down a rabbit hole isn’t it? I just find this whole topic fascinating as history is such a mysterious trip to explore. It’s like the more you know the more that you discover that you don’t know leaving you pondering, imagining and dwelling on all the possibilities.

      Thanks again for your fascinating response and adding tremendous value to my article. Now I have to follow up on some of the interesting points you brought up and go deeper in the rabbit hole. lol! Thanks again DB! Best wishes and much respect! 🙂 – Cole Mize

      • The way I’ve always looked at is that what we now think of as “rap music” is the music that has its roots in the Bronx with Kool Herc and Coke La Rock. They were no doubt influenced by James Brown, Pigmeat Markham, radio DJs who gave short rhymed intros to songs, and the pimp jive like you hear on Hustler’s Convention, but the first rap records have to be those that sprung from the Bronx b-boy scene.

        That said, though I don’t know the order in which they came out, I know of at least 25 rap records that were released in 1979. I believe Fatback’s was the first, but I don’t know for sure that “Rapper’s Delight’ was the second. It was clearly the one that reached the masses, and became one of the top-selling 12” singles of its day.

        • Thanks for chiming in Zqjxk and sharing your insight about the early days of “rap music”. Were the 25 records that you mentioned released in 1979 commercial releases or underground released? I’ve heard about a lot of underground tracks coming out around that time but don’t recall hearing about any other commercial releases besides King Tim III. If you can think of any commercial or underground tracks feel free to share them. Thanks again for reading my article and commenting I sincerely appreciate it! 🙂 – Cole Mize

  • I know this is an old post but I heard something today that led me to this article and I had to share the song I found. The first rap song apparently was “Preacher and the Bear” recorded in 1937 by the Golden Gate Quartet. While listening to Lead Belly who had previously done a recording with them I had to look them up as they were so catchy. While listening to their first album from 1937-1938 this song came up and was actually surprised that it is not mentioned more. The more you know.

    • Hey Kody,

      Thanks for sharing the Golden Gate Quartet. I’ll make sure to check them out! I may have to write another article sharing some of the earliest recordings of raps. Yup the more you know the more you don’t know lol! Thanks again for reading and commenting I really do appreciate it! Much respect! 🙂 – Cole Mize

  • Great article, and even better commentary from the readers. Being in my 40’s, it was definitely the Sugar Hill Gang that introduced most folks to what would be considered Hip Hop today (MC’s and DJ’s). We only heard about the goings on in NYC from other kids that moved up here, but it didn’t take long for hip hop culture to take root where I lived in CT. This would probably be less contested if Kool Herc and Coke La Rock had made some sort of record together, but then again, they were all about the jams.

    As far as classifying what song has the distinction of being the first rap song. Well it depends on whether you are just talking about a song with a rhyming format in its basic form. If so, then you can cite any of the songs that were mentioned already. Rhyming has been around forever. If however you are trying to essentially determine what the first HIP HOP song was comercially, well then you have to defer to “Rapper’s Delight”, as much as I wish it weren’t the case.

    For me personally, hip hop began with “Love Rap/The New Rap Language” by Spoonie G and the Treacherous Three. “Rapper’s Delight” and “King Tim III” were too disco for me. “New Rap Language” was unlike anything else that came out in 1980, and the beat in “Love Rap” was the shit. Things got really interesting once Run-DMC dropped “Sucka MC’s” in 84.

    • Thanks for sharing some of your first hand experience of witnessing the emergence of Hip Hop. It’s always fascinating to hear others stories about how they were initially introduced to what has now become such a popular genre of music. I appreciate your positive feedback on my article an I agree the commentary from the readers have been nothing short of amazing! Much love and respect! 🙂 – Cole Mize

    • Thanks for sharing Blowfly with me. Wow looks like he has a lot of records prior to Rappers Delight. I’m going to check more into him. Sorry to see that he has passed. Thanks for the heads up. Good lookin! 🙂 – Cole Mize

    • Thanks for sharing that with me Shazam. I just checked out his interview on Vlad TV. That’s really messed up how is own manager did him! SMH! Good lookin out! – Cole Mize

  • The first commercially recorded Rap song is Rapture by a rock band named Blonde. It’s circa 1973 and was also the first Rap song to hit the charts as a best seller and also the radio charts as a top 100 most requested. If your gonna give a history lesson at least get all the history down pat first!!!!!!

    • Thanks for your input Mitchstein. I’ve learned a lot more since writing this article about some of the first rap songs. I’ve actually found songs that were released before Rapture. Check out Pigmeat Markham Here comes the judge when you get a chance. Thanks for reading and commenting! 🙂 – Cole Mize

    • “Rapture,” was actually released January 12th, 1981. You are also incorrect by saying that it was the first, “rap,” song to hit the charts. Many songs by other groups were commercially successful before, “Rapture,” was even an apple in Deborah Harry’s eye. That song by Blondie, was actually the first, “rap,” song to reach the number one spot on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart, in the United States. I always try to find a way to bust out that fact to people that claim to be hip-hop lovers and just sit back and enjoy the look on their face. Vanilla Ice/Eminem eat your heart out because the first number one, “rap,” hit was recorded by a white woman (And she didn’t even get sued over it!). 😀

    • Mitchstein: Maybe you should get your facts together cuz ‘Rapture by Blonde was release as a single in 1981..NOT 1973!! You’re over-embellishing your narrative by 7 years!!! ‘Rappers Delight’ was released in 1979 which beats your narrative buy 2 years!!! Now Rapure did do better on the charts of course but that’s only because it was not an ‘Urban’ record and it appealed to mostly Suburban white youth. Which is thee exact same thing which happend with Little Richards’ “Tuttie Fruitti” Though it was a huge hit for Richard in its original Rhythm N Blues form, Pat Boones ‘white washed’ version was a bigger seller for it appealed to the majority…which were suburban whites. Just as blonde’s Rapture did. In fact..in the 1980s was the breakthrough decade for black music/culture. Prior to the 1980s it was common for white artist to sell better. Black artist were not breaking grounds at that time. In the 1980s we saw Rap/HipHop become mainstream Popular music, chart topping and outselling other genres and even being respected by Recording Arts & Sciences nominating/awarding grammys to rap artist. Though ‘Vanilla Ice’ had a #1 hit with ‘Ice Ice Baby’ he only proved to be a ‘one hit wonder’ and Hammers’ ‘Please Hammer Don’t Hurt Em’ became the biggest selling album that year staying at #1 for 21 weeks. A status no previous Rap artist had achieved at that time.

  • Wow! Some interesting info! But I didn’t hear anyone mention an old rapper named Jocko! He was definitely one of the first! I believe he was after King Tim but slightly before Sugar Hill Gang! You might wanna check that out! If I remember correctly he wrapped over the old cut “Ain’t no stopping us now”!

    • Thanks DJ Vee La Rock I’m glad that you enjoyed my article! Thanks for the feedback I’ll make sure to check out Jocko for sure. Much respect! 🙂 – Cole Mize

  • The first true ‘rap’ recording with recognized style and phrasing (and boastful lyrics for that matter) was the novelty record “Here Comes The Judge” by Pigmeat Markham. It was recorded in 1968 (not to be confused with the Shortly Long song of the same name). It entered the charts in June of 1968, and became a Top 20 hit. Pigmeat’s “judge” was a character at the time on the popular variety show “Rowan And Martin’s Laugh In.” Hope this is helpful.

    • Thanks for the input David. Pigmeat has come up several times in the comments section. I’ve actually found older raps then his. When you get a chance check out The Gypsy which came out in the late 20’s early 30’s. – Cole Mize

  • IT’S GOOD EVERYONE IS PULLING BACK ALL THESE OLD SONGS THAT HAD ELEMENTS OF RAP IN IT……SORRY TO SAY WHEN THOSE SONGS WERE RELEASED IT WASN’T CALLED RAP OR HIP-HOP……..IT’S CALLED THAT NOW BECAUSE OF THE SONG WHICH WAS THE FIRST RAP IN 1979 PERIOD……I REMEMBER HEARING THE FATBACK SONG EARLIER THAN RAPPER’S DELIGHT……..AND YES SAMPLING OTHER SONGS WITH HIP HOP MADE THE GENRE VERY POPULAR……..BEING A DJ AT THAT TIME I KNEW GOOD TIMES WAS THE BEAT FOR RAPPER’S DELIGHT……

    • Hey Taz,

      Thanks for chiming in and sharing some of your story with us. It had to be crazy coming up during such an iconic time such as the 70’s 🙂 – Cole Mize

  • How about an ounce of love for Kurtis Blow The Deuce? Yeah, its “late” 1981, but its definitely a pioneer in rap, way more street than Sugarhill or definitely Pigmeat.

    • Thanks for checking out my article Sniffsincense. Yes there’s many good examples of when you can see forms of rapping in much earlier songs. I’ve found songs that have forms up rapping in them dating back to the 30’s – 40’s which is wild to think about! Who knows how much further it possibly goes back. Thanks for chiming in! 🙂 – Cole Mize

  • Sometimes the truth is not what you expect at all. In my opinion the first record to have a rap on it is “Time rag” by the folk singer Joan Baez. This was released on her album Blowin away in the summer of 1977. Because she’s a white woman who sang mostly in the traditional folk style she’ll never get any credit for it. However, if you look for it on youtube and listen to it you will hear that aside from the vocal chorus which is sang it is very much rap. I’m not saying this song “time rag” is the very first rap song but it does pre date the stuff that is usually considered to be the first. There was also at least proto rap like Gil Scott Heron and the last poets as well as others I’m sure.

    • Hey Mike, Thanks so much for chiming in and sharing “Time Tag” with us all. That’s undoubtedly a rap song for sure! Since I wrote this article several years ago I’ve dug much deeper into this topic and have found songs dating back as early as the 40’s that have lots of rapping in them. I’m going to update this article eventually with my findings and likely create a timeline that shows all the song with rapping in them that lead up to rappers delight and will certainly include “Time Rag” in it as well. It’s really cool to hear how far rap really goes back! Thanks again for your contribution Mike! 🙂 – Cole Mize

    • By 1977 Hip-Hop Culture was already in Full Bloom. Some artists of different Genre’s caught glimpses of the Urban street art form and emulated it, either in they just liked it, or paying homage to it since they had a platform to release it. I mentioned some early ones like Pigmeat Markum. It’s really the marriage of the music & the lyrics & cadence which still points to the early 70’s When poetry, Street Artfroms, Reggae, Rock, Jazz, Disco, Breakbeats, Soul, R&B all collided.

  • I just check out the 30s & 40s everyone was talking about and yes that a form of rapping. I had one song i seen no one post i would like for you to check out. It is called JoJo Gunn by Chucky Berry 1958.

    • Hey Sean, Thanks for sharing Chucky’s song. I just finished checking it out and he is most certainly rapping in it! Really cool stuff! 🙂 – Cole Mize

  • Cole,
    Love your article and all of the wonderful comments. Very fascinating topic. I appreciate the research you do and I admire how open you are to suggestions. You should think about writing an anthology on this topic. However I think many readers are confusing the 60’s style chanting (inspired from poetry and included by artist such as the Beatles, Joan Baez, etc.) with rap. I know the topic is the first “recorded” rap album but I just want to add my two cents. I have always heard and believe that among other things the roots of rap music are deeply embedded in an old game played by African Americans for centuries called “the Dozens” wherein two or more competitors would insult each other (battle rap) or try to out compete each other using escalating levels of braggadocio. It is even widely believed that “the Dozens” was practiced on the slave ships. It is well known that Africans and their descendants commonly use humor as a way to relieve their pain (Eddie Murphy, Redd Foxx, Chris Rock, etc…). Clearly the tools used to play “the Dozens” (battle, braggadocio, self deprecation, etc…) are completely the baseline in most hip hop and should not be confused with the deeply contemplative 60’s inspired poetry chanting of a generation that was engulfed in a horrible war and whose young people was in the middle of a sexual revolution (abortion became legal and birth control was more readily available). In addition, young white people were beginning to throw away the racist and sexist ideals of their parents. The inspiration for rap and 60’s style chanting is completely different from rap and should not be confused as part of the genre’s (rap) “earliest recordings”.

    • Andthenwhatt – Dozens play a part with the wit and comedic aspect. Now to dig deeper as I have done previously and I have been saving this. The roots of this style is tribal in nature. African tribal. Griot’s, the historians of West African society and culture were defined as historian, storyteller, praise singer, poet and/or musician. The griot is a repository of oral tradition and is often seen as a societal leader due to his or her traditional position as an advisor to royal personages. As a result of the former of these two functions, he or she is sometimes also called a bard. According to Paul Oliver in his book Savannah Syncopators, “Though [the griot] has to know many traditional songs without error, he must also have the ability to extemporize on current events, chance incidents and the passing scene. His wit can be devastating and his knowledge of local history formidable”. Although they are popularly known as “praise singers”, griots may use their vocal expertise for gossip, satire, or political comment. Also: Griots originated in the 13th century in the Mande empire of Mali. For centuries they have told and retold the history of the empire, keeping their stories and traditions alive. They tell their stories to music, using instruments such as the ngoni, the kora or the balafon.

      So with slavery and the transportation of Africans to places such as England, Caribbeans, Cuba and North America, this culture as well as oral tradition and music came as well, morphed over the years and is probably the true root of the art form, with a lot of the variables mentioned in this thread contributing in some shape or fashion. There is a saying that there is nothing new under the sun, 13th century was a ways back. “Going Way Back” Just-Ice & Krs-One – GDash Fresh

    • Hey Denise, Thanks so much for all of your kind words and insights. I agree the comments section has sparked many different angles of conversation which I have found to be quite fascinating. Thanks for taking the time to share your insights as well! Much love and respect! 🙂 – Cole Mize

    • Denise, have you even heard the Joan Baez song? It doesn’t sound like you have. It is clearly rap no matter how you want to label it. I even implied earlier that people wouldn’t accept it as rap(mainly because she’s a white woman)and it seems I was right.

  • Read the article and most of the comments. Very interesting thread. Didn’t see any mention of Chuck Brown who wrote “We Need Some Money” in 1984, and known as the Godfather of Go-Go. And of course, Gil Scott Heron “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” (1970). And in the past, one of the older versions of spoken word was known as Scat Singing, the singer just made up words on the spot (improvisation of lyrics) though scat singing also includes nonsense syllables.

  • From my point of view, from the repetitive driving bass line, to the random sound drops, to the lyrics that were more spat than sung, the biting social commentary within them, and the fact that it was a departure from their normal style, I submit that the Temptations Ball of Confusion was the first hip-hop/rap song

  • actually ? I heard Rappers Delight before King Tim III…. maybe because I AM from NY and was a musician as to why I heard one before the other.. however…. I do remember winning A RADIO CONTEST that wanted to know THE FIRST RAP that was successful … my answer was Rapper’s Delight….. 1978….. which is when I first heard it… and IT WAS SMOK’N.

    Not sure where you got all of your information from… but I know what I heard and when I heard it… and I mean on THE RADIO as well. BE BLESSED

    • You may have remembered hearing Grandmaster Caz spit these rhymes years earlier since rapper’s Delight stole most of it’s lyrics from him. He had been saying lines like “I’m the CASN the OVA and the rest is FLY” for years. If you had ever heard Grandmaster Caz rap, you undoubtedly would have heard these lines before rapper’s Delight came out and I could see confusing them in hindsight. He wrote the lyrics for them and they never gave him credit or royalties. Sylvia Robinson assembles these poser clowns just like Lou Perlman assembles the Backstreet Boys. They’re fakes, fugazis. They are essentially a fake band put together for a single song that none of them wrote. Hip hop history needs to correct this mistake and strip them of their significance. They didn’t produce the best, they didn’t write the lyrics…they’re on the same level as Mili Vanili.

  • All these replys and hardly a mention of King Tim III. I used to spin records at a disco in Salinas CA in the late 70’s/early 80’s and even though Rapper’s Delight was an overall more popular song, the dance floor would blow up when I put on King Tim III. Personally, I think it’s a better song than RD, but they are both fun songs.

  • To the OP asking the question; not only is Rapper’s Delight NOT the first rap song, it is outright plagiarism at the very least and theft at most. If you listen to the song, you’ll hear Big Bang Hank literally spell out the name of another rapper-Grandmaster Caz. “I’m the C.A.S.N. the O.V.A and the rest is F.L.Y.” Casanova Fly was one of Grandmaster Caz’s aliases. Caz was a truly dope MC who is criminally underrated and rarely remembered as a hip hop founding father/pioneer. He wrote the lyrics for Rapper’s Delight for these jokers and never received credit OR royalties for his contribution to the song or the greater culture that was emerging. All of the Rapper’s Delight lyrics sound like other Grandmaster Caz songs and for good reason. The Sugar Hill Gang were too unskilled or lazy (or both) to write quality lyrics so they stole some lyrics from Caz. These idiots stole his lyrics and were then too stupid to change his name to one of theirs!!! This is as stupid as copying your friend’s answers to a test and being too lazy and dumb to put your own name on it. If you’re gonna cheat, you gotta remember to put your own name on it dude! The worst part of this debacle is that nobody cares. People are often happier with the myth than the reality.
    The members of the Sugar Hill Gang weren’t even rappers. They were some dudes that were hastily assembled by Sylvia Robinson. They were literally formed the same way that Backstreet Boys formed. Educate yourself before perpetuating the myth that Rapper’s delight is anything other than a novelty song footnote in hip hop culture.
    Facts.

    • Thank u….thank u….THANK U! THIS was the comment I was looking for & if I didn’t find it I was going to type it myself!

    • Caz gave hank his verse for Rapper’s Delight. I agree that Caz deserves more credit but the verse wasn’t stolen. Caz was asked by Hank if he could have the verse for the song and Caz said yes. He should have gotten a songwriting credit but again, I wouldn’t classify it as stealing.

    • Factmaster Smart? That’s a clever name! But, you’re not actually factual! Respectively, Factmaster, go and and watch “The Untold Truth Of The Sugarhill Gang! Your overall comment/statement is true! But, there have been some things corrected over the years! Like, lawsuits and compensation. Now that Sylvia Robinson has passed away, the lawsuits are carried over to her son or sons. They are dealing with the likes of Melle Mel; who’s owed millions!

  • Rapper’s Delight wasn’t sampled it was re-played by Sylvia Robinson’s house band Positive Force.

  • I hate to say it but C. W. MCcalls hit song Convoy released June 1978 was the first rap hit —- it was rap before rap had a name

    • Wow! I’m replying 2 years later! Kevin! Actually, that song you’re talking about, “Convoy,” was released in 1976, and not 1978! ?

  • It all depends on how you define “rap”: was “Hotrod Lincoln” (best rapped by Comander Cody in 1972, but other versions with more of a square-dance style of chanting going back to 1951) a rap song? How about “Beware” by Louis Jordan (1947)? I’d say that the first modern rap record was “They’re coming to take me away!” by Napolean XIV (1966), mainly because it used tape loops in place of manual drumming . But another good choice for early rap would be “Wake up niggers.” (yes, it was spelled that way) by the Last Poets (1968 or 69, used in Mick Jagger’s movie “Performance”).

  • *imitating Lex Luthor in Superman Returns (2006) : WROOOOOOOONG!
    The first rap song written by black people is indeed Preacher and the bear (1937), but it’s not even the first rap song, because there are earlier rap/protorap songs written by white people :
    Rossini’s La Danza (1835)
    Gilbert and Sullivan’s I am the very model of modern major general (1879)
    Evert Taube’s Kinesiska Muren (1920s)
    Harry Reser’s Send for Our Free Booklets (1930)
    Night mail poet rap scene (from a 1936 movie)
    Who killed Maggie (from a 1937 movie)
    So kids, black people didn’t invent rap. You’re welcome.

    • And kids be sure to study 13th century west African griots. It would do you good to study this to mr crot.

  • I’d like to think sampling music to rap back in the day set a trend. I remember Funky Four + 1 more sampling Cheryl Lynn’s Got To Be Real to their Rappin and Rocking the House.

    • David, we can’t confuse covering a song, (played by an actual band) and sampling is the use of a wanted portion of a recorded song, used in another song. Simply. That Funky 4 Plus 1 song you’re talking about was covered by a studio band. In fact, all the early Hip-Hop recordings were either original music, or a already popular song covered by a studio band. It wasn’t too long after that, when sampling took over!

  • Well if you could remember the Jackson 5 did a rap on the Going Back To Indiana TV Show with Rosie Grier called the DAY BASKET BALL WAS SAVED 1970

  • If rap is spoken words to music accompanied, not singing, but also thrown out to pop culture wide release- meaning all of America and the world, then early seventies country music had something to say: “Hot rod Lincoln”, “The Devil went down to Georgia”, and “When You’re Hot You’re Hot. ” But African-Americans owned it with “Rapper’s Delight” (Say what?), confirmed it with ” White Lines, ” (don’t do it baby) and cemented it with “Gangster’s Paradise.”

  • So as someone who has studied the progression of classical from Bach to Mozart to Beethoven to Wagner it is interesting to see a modern twist on how our music evolves. I was in 7th grade when I heard “Rappers Delight” at a party of middle schoolers and I remember that moment until today. The next rap song I remember that stopped me dead in my tracks was “Welcome to the Terrordrome” by Public Enemy. Music and poetry have always been a progression ideas heaped upon each other. We can argue who was “first” but in the end that never really works.

    • Very well put Lee! I totally agree! I’ve arrived at the same conclusion. Anything that is created is being built upon what has already been established. As the old saying goes “There’s nothing new under the sun”. Thanks for reading and commenting Lee I really do appreciate it! ✌️? – Cole Mize

  • Rap is 1/4 part of the amalgamation of hip hop, which itself is contextualized and isolated within discrete time and place. Thus, rap matured as the newspaper of the oppressed. Here ordinary people used the platform of rap to share occurrences, as well as trends that were happening in their lives and neighborhoods; mostly sandwiched between the war on poverty and the war on drugs . Both of these government (white) initiatives is the social genesis of HIP HOP! Most would argue foundational rap provided narratives expressing issues of justice through sounding the alarm to conditions inflicting the community. Now, in different times and spaces, rap has been recontextualized through various times, places, and conditions from its foundations, through its golden era, and now contemporary rap. Given all the the iterations, the only consistent characteristics of rap is its consumers review: we are very quick to name it Dope or Whack! As for the first song, using the aforementioned criteria, I am of the mind to state, Nile Rodger’s bass line, Sylvia Robinson’s production, and Sugar Hill Gang’s performance came together to give rap a commercial presence; homage has to be given to laid the ground work.

  • The first rapper was actually Jewish, i.e. Robert Zimmerman, AKA Bob Dylan. He released this rap song on March 8th 1965, which was well before any of the artists you refer to…

    • Steve, lyrically, and in these times, this does qualify as a rap song! But, I would not say it’s the first! ?

  • I totally agree wqith Steve, Bob Dylan’s Subterranean Homesick Blues was rap before anyone knew what rap music was.

  • I was recently told that no one who hasn’t had a gang based life has the right to rap…. I am now single after that comment. Thank you for your explanation even though it’s dated 2014 anybody that’s anybody in music whether it’s professional or not understands music is universal and nobody has the right to tell anybody what they can rap about or sing about or yodel about for that matter.

    • Amanda, originally the early pioneers of Hip-Hop, one of the biggest points were to compete with the skills of DJ performing, Rapping, Break Dancing and perhaps graffiti! Often times, these skills were used, instead of fighting. It wasn’t until Hip-Hop hit the West Coast of, Los Angeles, California, in the early to mid nineties. Street Gang activity had already been a blueprint in Los Angeles, for 30 years already! By the time Hip-Hop engulfed and impressed Street Gangsters, they incorporated their way of life, as they knew into it. Thus, the results were G-Funk, (G for Gangster) and or Gangster Rap.

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