How Did We Survive Passed the Novelty?

Anthology of Rap Book

The Anthology of Rap by Adam Bradley and Andrew DuBois

When rap became an official genre of music back in 1979, many people thought that it wouldn’t last. Dozens of forgettable tracks were released. There were some horrible recordings that seemed to just be cashing in on the new fad.

Part of the problem was that the true pioneers of the genre were largely left out of the recorded music business. For those that did record and release singles, the essence of the live performances didn’t translate well to record.  It would take years for rap music to come into its own. It could have easily run its course before that happened, however. Looking back, it’s almost hard to believe that we survived passed the novelty.

Dozens of “Rap” Songs

“In the sixteen months between September 1979 and the end of 1980, dozens of songs were self-defined in their titles as “rap”. . . This development follows patterns on popularization found in other kinds of music.  The matter of whether to spell the new music’s name as “rap” or “rapp” in some titles reminds one of the occasional fluctuation early on between “jazz” and “jass,” just as rock and roll was constantly naming itself as it began to get popular – “Jailhouse Rock,” “Rock Around the Clock”-to categorize and attempt to distinguish it as a discrete musical entity.”

It’s nice to read that rap wasn’t the only genre of music to go through this phase.

Admired tracks

Jimmy Spicer – Adventures of Super-Rhyme (Rap)
Kurtis Blow – Christmas Rappin

That Kurtis Blow song stands the test of time and has spawned some great holiday-themed rap. But once again, some novelty tracks have over-saturated this sub-genre.

Lesser known tracks

Frederick Davies and Lewis Anton – Astrology Rap
Super Jay’s – Santa’s Rap Party

Impersonation Songs

Honeymooner’s Rap (Jackie Gleason)
Hambo – First Rap Part II (Sylvester Stallone)
Rappin’ Duke (John Wayne)

As you can see from the titles, many of this songs are beyond absurd.

Sports, Games, Cartoons, and Comedy Rap Songs

“There were songs about the National Basketball Association, ABC’s Monday Night Football, the Los Angeles Lakers, and the Washington Redskins, as well as one performed in 1985 by the eventual Super Bowl champion Chicago Bears (“Super Bowl Shuffle”). There were songs that took their titles from puppets, video games, and cartoon characters such as ALF, E.T., Pac-Man, and the Smurfs. There was a “Haunted House of Rock: (in fact, rap) and a “Groovy Ghost Party” rapped in the persona of Casper the Friendly Ghost. There were Fat Boys, Skinny Boys, and a ventriloquist rap duo called Wayne and Charlie (The Rapping Dummy). Even the comedian and director Mel Brooks recorded a rap.”

Roxanne Wars

There were hundred of songs in response to UTFO’s “Roxanne, Roxanne” sparked by the success of Roxanne Shante’s amazing response record “Roxanne’s Revenge.” I did a radio show about this topic if you want to learn more about it and hear some of them.

Hip-Hop Lives

We got through the awkward stage and finally moved beyond the novelty. We proved the haters wrong and showed that rap music was not a fad. Hip-hop became a culture and has had a huge influence in society. This book shows that there is poetry in the songs and focusing on the lyrics by some amazing hip-hop artists. It is definitely worth checking out.

More from this Book

Rap Music Needs Anthologies (my original post after reading this book)

Even More Books 

My List of 2017 Reads and My List of 2018 Reads