RAPPIN’ TO THE BEAT: 20/20 SPECIAL ON HIP HOP, 1981

I often say that the internet is both great and terrible… well, here’s one of those times when it is really, really great. Back in 1981, the ABC television program 20/20 ran what I guess was the first ever nationally televised news piece on rap music / Hip Hop (if someone knows of anything that predates this please let me know… this certainly was the earliest thing that I remember seeing). All I can say is that this was a BIG deal when it originally aired. We see and hear rappers everywhere today- tv, radio, movies, magazines, internet, you name it. I wish I could get away from these muthaf***as nowadays. But back then it was all brand new and m.c. sightings were scarce. To this day I vividly remember watching this show and losing my mind over it all. To see the Furious 5 and the Funky 4 on channel 7? MAN. You can’t even imagine how huge that was to a b-boyin’-ass kid like me at the time. Anyway, big ups to Rap Radar and whoever unearthed this joint (EMZ? Dan Charnas?) for posting this up and letting me relive a nice little slice of my youth. AWESOME.

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7 Comments

  1. Wow that was amazing. “Rap is likely to influence popular music for years to come…it has tremendous staying power.” Rather prescient. The reporter was surprisingly respectful, especially compared to the way news networks and magazines would report about hip-hop just a few years later.

  2. No doubt for you New York headz that doubt that Philly was in this piece as well you heard em say it hit the streets of new York Philly and D.C.!! Thing is it had been in the streets of New York and Philly long before they had gotten wiff of it!! My earliest recollection of Philly being 79 it could’ve been before hand but none the less it did bring back memories!! Great ones that is!! Every group they showed I admired I can’t front even the Sugarhill gang hell I wrote out their entire long version then changed the lyrics and gave my boys character names all in 79, Same way I heard New rap language and went crazy hell I did that entire speed rap alone!Yeah the whole thing!! then wrote my own!! Man do I love hip hop!!Thanks for this one I gotta find a program to record this piece!!!

  3. It’s pretty crazy to think that in the 28 years since this show aired, mainstream culture has done a 180 and everything it does is firmly entrenched in “hip hop” music, fashion, etc. Not to hate on all the fools making loot off hip hop being the biggest shit out right now, but I’m real curious to see what happens after the crash and real b-boys reinvent that schitt.

  4. Yo Soulman, thank you for uppin this. I definitely need a copy of this. The crazy thing about this is in this short little segement they actually touched on all the roots of Hip Hop that have been subsequently ignored in just about every other book and piece on Hip Hop that I’ve seen since. Good find there bro! One Love

  5. Hip-hop felt good and meant something back in the day… It was a new hope for something… Now, for the most part, it's just bullshit… Of course, the real schitt is still out there, but the majority of the stuff on radio and tv just isn't hittin'… Seein' this felt good. Thank You, to the powers that be!

  6. excellent post. I think the D.J. “Jocko” who they show a few times was the same guy who recorded the obscure old school joint “Everybody's Uptight.” I used to have a tape called “Street Beats” that came out on Sugarhill with that song on it–it's not included in the Sugarhill box set either for some reason, IMO it's better lyrically than a lot of the stuff that got on that set.

    Anyway thanks for the post and the memories from the good ol days.

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