Category: hip hop

On this day in music history: December 11, 197…

On this day in music history: December 11, 1979 – “Funk You Up” by The Sequence is released. Written by Angela Brown, Cheryl Cook, Gwendolyn Chisolm and Sylvia Robinson, it is the debut single and biggest hit for the rap vocal trio from Columbia, SC. Consisting of Angie B. (Angela Brown), Cheryl The Pearl (Cheryl Cook), and Blondie (Gwendolyn Chisolm), the trio have been friends since childhood having been on the same cheer leading squad in high school. The group get their big break when The Sugarhill Gang, who are on the road promoting “Rapper’s Delight”, come to Columbia to perform at the Township Auditorium. The girls meet Sugarhill Records co-founder Sylvia Robinson back stage and audition for her, performing their original song titled “Funk You Up”. Robinson signs them immediately and put them in the studio to record the song. Making history as the first female Hip Hop group on record, the single takes off quickly, selling over a half million copies in less than a month. “Funk You Up” peaks at #15 on the R&B singles chart in the Spring of 1980. The Sequence record a nearly dozen singles (and three albums) for Sugarhill between 1979 and 1985 including the classic “Monster Jam” with labelmate Spoonie Gee, “Funky Sound (Tear The Roof Off)” (#39 R&B), “I Don’t Need Your Love (Part One)” (#40 R&B) and an updated version of their debut “Funk You Up ‘85”. Though the group breaks up in 1985, “Funk You Up” has great staying power, with one of its main hooks being interpolated in Dr. Dre’s hit “Keep Their Heads Ringin’” (#10 Pop and R&B) in 1995, by Erykah Badu on a remix of “Love Of My Life Worldwide” in 2003, performing the song with Bahamadia and Angie Stone.  Angie B. rechristens herself Angie Stone and go on to have a successful career as an R&B singer in the 90’s and 2000’s. A talented lyricist, Cheryl Cook also co-writes a number of hits while at Sugarhill including The Sugarhill Gang’s “8th Wonder”, “Apache”, and co-producing the electro-funk classic “Break Dance (Electric Boogie)” for the West Street Mob. She now runs her own production company Black Bottom Entertainment, and has begun recording again. Gwendolyn Chisolm has worked for several years behind the scenes in the music industry as a personal assistant and road manager to her lifelong friend Angie Stone, and has established a nonprofit organization called Education Through Talent to assist young people looking to enter the music industry.

On this day in music history: December 10, 198…

On this day in music history: December 10, 1984 – “Roxanne, Roxanne” by UTFO is released. Written by Full Force and UTFO, it is the debut single and biggest hit for the rap trio from Brooklyn, NY. Originally tour dancers for Whodini, The Kangol Kid (Shiller Shaun Fequiere) and Doctor Ice (Fred Reeves, younger brother of rapper Jalil Hutchins), form their own group with The Educated Rapper (Jeffrey Campbell). They call themselves UTFO, (“Un-Touchable Force Organization”). The group connect with the R&B band Full Force, and sign with Select Records in 1984. For their first single, they record “Hangin’ Out”, but it fails to attract much attention. However, it is the B-side that becomes the game changer. “Roxanne, Roxanne” spins a tale of a girl who ignores her would be suitors advances. It samples rocker Billy Squier’s classic “The Big Beat”, along with scratching using Be-Side’s seminal hip hop classic “Change The Beat”. “Roxanne” quickly over takes “Hangin’ Out”, becoming the A-side by default. Becoming a smash in New York, it quickly goes nationwide, peaking at #10 on the Billboard R&B singles chart on March 2, 1985, and also breaching the Hot 100, peaking at #77 on March 9, 1985. UTFO’s hit spins off a slew of answer records in its wake. The first comes from a fourteen year old female rapper named Roxanne Shante. Born Lolita Gooden, Shante is a member of the Queens based collective The Juice Crew, which also includes producer Marley Marl, and rappers Big Daddy Kane and Biz Markie among them. The idea for a response to “Roxanne, Roxanne” comes when Shante is approached by DJ Mr. Magic and Marley Marl. They tell her of a beef they have with UTFO, over a missed concert appearance. She offers to write a diss track, and they agree to her offer. Titled “Roxanne’s Revenge”, it samples beats directly from the UTFO record, with Shante verbally eviscerating them. Released on Philadephia based Pop Art Records, “Roxanne’s Revenge” (#22 R&B) is also an immediate sensation, chasing the UTFO single up the Billboard R&B chart. Their back to back success inspires others to jump on the bandwagon, and quickly releasing their own answer records. Among them are the Full Force produced “The Real Roxanne” by The Real Roxanne (aka

Elease Jack), “Sparky’s Turn (Roxanne, You’re Through)” by Sparky D., “The Parents of Roxanne” by Gigolo Tony & Lacey Lace, and “Roxanne’s a Man (The Untold Story—Final Chapter)” by Ralph Rolle. In all, more than 100 “Roxanne” records are released. Following the “Roxanne” phenomenon, UTFO follow it with several other singles including “Bite It”, “Leader Of The Pack”, “We Work Hard”, and “Lethal”, but none match the chart or sales success of their debut. The group record five albums before going their separate ways in the early 90’s. Sadly, The Educated Rapper passes away from cancer in June of 2017, with Doctor Ice returning to Whodini as backing dancer, and Kangol Kid writing and producing other artists.

On this day in music history: December 4, 1990…

On this day in music history: December 4, 1990 – “One For All”, the debut album by Brand Nubian is released. Produced by Brand Nubian, Dante Ross, Skeff Anselm, Dave “Jam” Hall and Stimulated Dummies, it is recorded at Calliope Studios in New York City from Mid 1989 – Late 1990. Formed in their hometown New Rochelle, NY in 1989, Brand Nubian consists of group members Maxwell “Grand Puba” Dixon, Derek “Sadat X (formerly Derek X)” Murphy, Lorenzo “Lord Jamar” Dechalus and K.A. “DJ Alamo” Jones. The group are signed to Elektra Records by label A&R man and producer Dante Ross (De La Soul). With group members aligned with the Five Percenters sect of the Nation Of Islam, some of their songs sport a militant pro-black stance and politically conscious lyrics which draws some controversy, leading MTV to ban the video for the single “Wake Up” (#5 Rap, #92 R&B) featuring a black man wearing white face make up. The album is also praised for its production, innovative use of samples, and the lyrical prowess and MC skills of Grand Puba, Lord Jamar and Sadat X. An immediate hit at street level, the album spins off a total of four singles including the anti drug anthem “Slow Down” (#3 Rap, #63 R&B), and “All For One” (#17 Rap). Regarded as a classic of hip hop’s golden era during the first half of the 90’s, the albums’ sales do not match the major praise and acclaim given to it, with heavy bootlegging taking a huge chunk out of actual sales. To date, “One For All” has not reached Gold status in the US, with current Soundscan sales just north of 400,000 units in spite of never going out of print. “One For All” peaks at number thirty four on the Billboard R&B album chart, and number one hundred thirty on the Top 200.



The Beastie Boys photographed by Deborah Feingold, 1987.

On this day in music history: November 30, 199…

On this day in music history: November 30, 1991 – “Set Adrift On Memory Bliss” by P.M. Dawn hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also peaking at #16 on the R&B singles chart on the same date. Written by Attrell Cordes and Gary Kemp, it is the biggest hit for pop/rap duo from Jersey City, NJ. Consisting of brothers Prince Be (Attrell Cordes) and DJ Minutemix (Jarrett Cordes), the duo make their debut in 1989 with the single “Ode to a Forgetful Mind”. The record flops in the US, but fares much better in the UK when their US label Warlock Records licenses it to Gee Street Records. After Gee Street is purchased by Island Records in 1990, P.M. Dawn begin work on their first album. While working on the album, Prince Be hears Spandau Ballet’s 1983 hit “True”, and comes up with the idea to base a new song around a sample of that songs’ intro. Calling it “Set Adrift On Memory Bliss”, they also add samples of hip hop staples like The Soul Searchers “Ashley’s Roachclip”, and Bob James’ “Take Me To The Mardi Gras” to the track. The lyrics make reference to a number of different songs including Joni Mitchell’s “The Boho Dance”, George Michael’s “Careless Whisper”, The Pointer Sisters’ “Neutron Dance”, A Tribe Called Quest’s “Bonita Applebum”, with the latter’s lyric altered to name check actress Christina Applegate. For its single release, the track is remixed by Youth (birth name Martin Glover) of the British post punk band Killing Joke.  Released in the UK first, it peaks at #3 on UK singles chart before it is released in the US in September of 1991, as the second single from PM Dawn’s debut album “Of The Heart, Of The Soul And Of The Cross: The Utopian Experience”. Entering the Hot 100 at #50 on October 19, 1991, it vaults to the top of the chart six weeks later. The music video for the song features a cameo appearance by Spandau Ballet lead vocalist Tony Hadley. “Set Adrift On Memory Bliss” makes history as the first single to hit number one on the US pop chart using the Soundscan and BDS (Broadcast Data Systems) computer systems to tabulate radio airplay (the actual number of spins on air) and sales information (the number of copies sold in record stores). “Set Adrift On Memory Bliss” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

twixnmix: Nas, 2Pac, Redman, Biggie, Freedom…


Nas, 2Pac, Redman, Biggie, Freedom Williams, and Chuck D at Club Amazon in New York City on July 23, 1993.

Photos by Al Pereira

On this day in music history: November 23, 199…

On this day in music history: November 23, 1993 – “Doggystyle”, the debut album by Snoop Doggy Dogg is released. Produced by Dr. Dre, it is recorded at The Village Recorder in West Los Angeles, CA, The Complex Studios in Los Angeles, CA, Larrabee Studios North and Larrabee Studios West in North Hollywood, CA from January – October 1993. Born Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr., he is given the nickname “Snoopy” as a child by his parents. Involved in music from a young age, Broadus becomes obsessed with rap music during the 80’s. Though not officially a gang member, Snoop becomes friends with members of The Rollin’ 20’s, one of the most notorious sects of the Crips street gang. After scrapes with the law, it leads him to pursuing music more seriously. Paring up with his cousin Nathaniel “Nate Dogg” Hale and friend Warren “Warren G.” Griffin, the trio form the group 213. Griffin is the stepbrother of N.W.A. producer and rapper Dr. Dre, who hears 213’s demo at a house party. Dre is immediately impressed with Snoop, and wants to work with him. Snoop makes his recording debut in 1992 on the single “Deep Cover” (#4 Rap, #46 R&B, #57 Pop). It’s followed by his appearance on Dr. Dre’s debut album “The Chronic” in December of 1992. Featured on the singles “Nuthin’ But A G Thang”, “Dre Day” and “Let Me Ride”, it stokes the public’s anticipation for Snoop’s own album when he is signed to Death Row Records, co-founded by Dre and “Suge” Knight". Spending much of 1993 in the studio, the rapper’s former life on the streets threatens to end his career just as it is beginning to take flight. Snoop ends up an accessory to murder when his bodyguard McKinley Lee kills gang member Philip Woldemariam, after an altercation near the rapper’s apartment. The track “Murder Was The Case” eerily mirrors real life, with the song depicting Snoop being murdered in a drive by shooting. “Murder” is later remixed and becomes the centerpiece of a short film and soundtrack album released in October of 1994. “Doggystyle” is an immediate smash upon its release, selling more than 800,000 copies in its first week. It spins off three singles including “Who Am I (What’s My Name?)” (#8 R&B, #8 Pop), “Gin And Juice” (#13 R&B, #8 Pop) and “Doggy Dogg World” (#25 R&B). As part of the promotion of the album by Death Row Records, a limited edition vinyl LP pressing is issued for the Christmas holiday. The LP is pressed on green vinyl, and is packaged in a custom die cut sleeve with “Merry Christmas Muthaf******” on the front. The CD is later reissued as a DualDisc with the DVD side featuring the albums four music videos. It is also reissued as a double vinyl LP set in 2002, and as a limited edition colored vinyl pressing by Vinyl Me, Please in 2018. “Doggystyle spends five weeks (non-consecutive) at number one on the Billboard R&B album chart, three weeks (non-consecutive) on the Top 200, and is certified 4x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.



Tupac Shakur and Jada Pinkett on Thanksgiving, November 28, 1991.

On this day in music history: November 18, 198…

On this day in music history: November 18, 1985 – “Radio”, the debut album by LL Cool J is released. Produced by Rick Rubin and Jazzy Jay, it is recorded at Chung King House Of Metal in New York City from Late 1984 – Mid 1985. A talented young MC with a prodigious gift for writing sharp and concise rhymes, delivered with plenty of B-Boy attitude, LL Cool J stands out immediately from his contemporaries. Looking to make it in the music business, the teen aged rapper makes demos at home and sends them out to various record labels. After calling Rick Rubin, the co-founder of Def Jam Records numerous times, he listens to LL’s demo tape at the urging of King Ad Rock of The Beastie Boys. Impressed with what he hears, Rubin signs the then sixteen year old rapper to the label. LL Cool J’s first single “I Need A Beat”, released in 1984, is an immediate smash on the street, selling over 100,000 copies. By the end of that year, Def Jam has secured a major label distribution deal with CBS/Columbia Records. LL Cool J is the first artist on Def Jam given the green light to record a full length album. Aided by Rubin’s stripped down, minimalist production, the finished album does not take long to make a major impact. An instant classic, “Radio” quickly establishes LL Cool J as a force to be reckoned with, and as one of hip hop’s first bonafide mainstream superstars.  It spins off four singles including “I Can’t Live Without My Radio” (#15 R&B), “Rock The Bells” (#17 R&B), and “You’ll Rock” (#59 R&B). In time, it is regarded as a seminal album of rap’s “Golden Age”, becoming one of Def Jam’s all time best selling albums. Out of print on vinyl since 1989, it is remastered and reissued in 2014, to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Def Jam Records. “Radio” peaks at number six on the Billboard R&B album chart, number forty six on the Top 200, and it is Def Jam’s first album to be certified Gold just five months after its release. “Radio” is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: November 17, 199…

On this day in music history: November 17, 1992 – “The Predator”, the third album by Ice Cube is released. Produced by Ice Cube, DJ Pooh, Sir Jinx, Torcha Chamba, and DJ Muggs, it is recorded at Echo Sound in Glendale, CA and The Hit Factory in New York City from Late 1991 – Mid 1992. Issued as the follow up to the platinum selling “Death Certificate”, the L.A. born rapper/actor writes many of the albums’ songs in the wake of the LA Riots in the Spring of 1992 and reflects those events and the aftermath. It spins off three singles including “Wicked”, Check Yo’ Self" and “It Was A Good Day”. Well received by fans and critics upon its release, the album is Cube’s most commercially successful. The album cover photo is taken by photographer Pamela Springsteen (Bruce’s younger sister). The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 2003, with four additional bonus tracks, including the remixes of “Check Yo’ Self”, “It Was A Good Day”, and the B-sides “24 Wit An L” and “You Ain’t Gonna Take My Life”.

Issued on vinyl in limited quantities during its original release in 1992, it is remastered and reissued as a double LP pressing in 2003, and as a single 180 gram LP in 2016.

“The Predator” spends one week at number one on both the Billboard Top 200 and R&B album charts, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.