The success of "Rapper's Delight" by the Sugarhill
Gang proved that hip-hop was no longer confined to clubs, neighborhood block
parties and homemade tapes. Several New York-based record labels popped up,
including Enjoy and Disco Fever, which offered some competition to Sugar Hill
Records and their roster. While these smaller labels had support from within
the rap community, it seemed the outside world wanted a slicker sound. 1980
releases such as "The Breaks" and "Rapture", by Kurtis Blow
and Blondie, respectively, were hugely successful. 1980 was also the year that
all female crew Sequence hit the charts.
In September of 1980, Kurtis Blow released "The Breaks" on Mercury
Records. A joyful party jam full of shout-outs, whistles and crowd sounds, it
sported a call-and-response lyrical style and slamming beat. The record quickly
became hugely popular, and went to sell more than a million copies.
The Breaks Lyrics
These are the original handwritten lyrics for "The Breaks" by Kurtis
Blow. Written on notebook paper, the right edge of the page is rough where the
sheet was torn from its binding. However, while there is some creasing and slight
wear at corners and edges, the page is remarkably intact, and Blow's catchy
lyrics (written in his sprawling hand) are still legible.
In 1980, new wave/pop group Blondie released "Rapture", in which vocalist
Deborah Harry rapped about hip hop pioneers Grandmaster Flash and Fab 5 Freddy.
The song reached No.1 on the pop charts and received massive airplay, thereby
introducing rap (albeit a new wave, poppy version) to mainstream music listeners
around the world.
From the heretofore male-dominated (and New York - centric) world of rap, South
Carolina crew Sequence (the trio behind songs like "Funk you up" and
"Monster Jam") made a name for themselves on the Sugar Hill label,
releasing the first-ever rap record by an all-female group. As this handbill
demonstrates, female rappers such as Sequence (and Sha-Rock of the Funky Four
Plus One) were already making their mark on hip hop, paving the way for others
to come, such as Roxanne Shante, Salt-N-Pepa and MC Lytle.