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Rapture

by

Blondie



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

This was the first #1 hit song with a rap. Artists like Grandmaster Flash, Afrika Bambaataa, and Kurtis Blow had been rapping since the mid-'70s, and The Sugarhill Gang had the first Top 40 hit earlier in 1980 with "Rapper's Delight," but until "Rapture," rap had never been incorporated into a hit Pop song.

Debbie Harry did the rap, and it was really ridiculous, with lyrics about the "Man from Mars eating cars," but the novelty helped the song become a hit.

Harry's rap is so goofy that it sounds like she could be mocking the genre, but this was very early in the evolution of Hip-Hop, and many of the rhymes that came out of the New York block parties were just as silly. Harry and Chris Stein of Blondie championed rap and got involved in the community, often attending these block parties - they even took Nile Rodgers to one, which is where he learned that his song "Good Times" was a DJ favorite. Blondie brought rap to a far larger audience with this song; Debbie Harry says that a lot of rappers - including members of Mobb Deep and Wu-Tang Clan - told her it was the first rap song they ever heard, since rap wasn't on the radio then.
Until this came out, rappers always used existing songs as the basis for the music they would rap over. They usually took Disco or Soul records and looped the beats to extend the breaks. Debbie Harry's rap in this was nothing special, but it was the first rap in a song that had its own original music.
In certain Christian theology, The Rapture is an event where believers are transported to heaven while others must endure the beginning of the end times on Earth. The lyrics of this song are a bit apocalyptic, as the "Man from Mars" starts destroying the planet with his insatiable appetite. The word "Rapture" is also a play on the rap aspect of the song.
As the age of Disco ended, so did Blondie's success. This was their last US hit until 1999, when they had a comeback song called "Maria." They did have another UK hit in 1982 called "Island Of Lost Souls."
If you listen carefully to the lyrics, you might hear something naughty. Shortly before the rap, there is a line that sounds a lot like "Finger F--king." Most lyric sheets list this line as "Finger Popping."
Hip-Hop promoter and former host of Yo! MTV Raps Fab 5 Freddie is in the video and is mentioned in the song. He was part of the early rap scene and is credited with helping bring it into the mainstream. Blondie originally met Fab Five Freddy and his crew at a club. They all became friends, and one day Freddy jokingly suggested that Debbie Harry should write a song about them. She did, and the result was the rap that is the second half of the song. She sent it to Freddy, he and his crew loved it and she ended up recording it.
The video for this features a cameo appearance by New York artist/Andy Warhol disciple Jean-Michel Basquiat, whose life was portrayed in the 1996 film Basquiat.
The lyrics, "Flash is fast, flash is cool" are a reference to pioneering Hip-Hop DJ Grandmaster Flash.
KRS-One interpolated this song on his 1997 single "Step Into A World (Rapture's Delight)," which made #70 in the US. Singing with KRS-One on the track is Keva Holman. The song can be heard in the 2013 movie This Is the End, where it fits with the rapture theme.
Blondie
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Comments (20):

Original title for this was "F**k Harvard," making light of all the "-ar" sounds & Bostonians inability to pronounce it this way (they'd say "The man from Mahs was eating cahs").
- Cyberpope, Richmond, Canada
To be a great song, this one needed a rap-ectomy. I always fast-forward through that silly stuff.
- esskayess, Dallas, TX
This song features the lyric "Back to back...sacroiliac." The sacroiliac connects the sacrum and ilium of the pelvis and features strong ligaments which support the spine while shaking the buttocks on the dance floor during the next lyric which is "Spineless movement...and a wild attack." These are quite possibly the first set of anatomically correct lyrics to appear in Disco - especially when you consider the word "spineless."
- Robert, Houston, TX
I just registered on this site for one reason ; Thank You , Ash of Charleston that's the best zinger of a putdown i've seen in ages, can't stop chuckling :-)
- martin, The Kong, Hong Kong
Between February 1980 & January 1981 Blondie released four records and three of them reached #1; CALL ME {#1 for six weeks}, ATOMIC {#39}, THE TIDE IS HIGH {#1 for one week}, and RAPTURE {#1 for two weeks}...
- Barry, Sauquoit, NY
The song made a strong impression for me as a child, silly but cool.
- Theresa, Murfreesboro, TN
This song sounds really sexual to me and that's what i like about blondie
- Tony, Chicago, IL
Michael/ColumbiaMD [howdy, neighbor! Did I misspell your name, or did you? If it was me, I apologize.] - I heard this very suggestion from Arlo Guthrie many years ago, when rap was young on the national scene. And yes, that tune was from 1965--it was track 1 side 1 of his album, Bringin' It All Back Home, out in late summer of that year. The film, Don't Look Back, a non-narrated documentary of Dylan gigs, opens with SubHomBlues. I might also add, Trouble Every Day, by Frank Zappa and the Mothers, from their 1966 debut album, Freak Out. I guess you could think of these as proto-rap. And yes, Jason/Brighton--Gil Scott Heron seems to me to have got a step or two closer to modern rap. Early 70's, wasn't it? *** Damon/FernParkFL -- I believe John Raitt's famous soliloquy in Carousel was even earlier. I'm not exactly a student of rap history, but it sounds to me like you've got the essentials of it. The examples in my comment are not rap in its full-blown maturity, but they have many of its characteristics. The 'real' thing was from the streets, and had, as you say, a certain "style, attitude, culture" that are not quite there in these prototypes from Dylan, Zappa, and Heron.
- Fred, Laurel, MD
"I think it could be argued that, not only was this the first rap in a song that had its own original music, it was also the last rap in a song that had its own original music."

I supposed that could be argued, by someone who had absolutely no idea what they were talking about. I could list endless counterexamples, but this is about all a comment like that deserves in terms of a response.
- Joshua, Ellicott City, MD
Ive heard rumors that the lyrics "twenty-four hour shopping" arent the true lyrics and that the real lyrics are something sexual, but ive not been told what.
- ashley, watts, PA
Well if you want to define rap as someone talking over music, then Rex Harrison did it first in "my Fair Lady. However there is more to the definition than that. Rap is a style, an attitude, a culture, which was from the streets in the seventies, and Sugar Hill Gang was the first to bring it to the radio. Blondie made it mainstream, and even makes references in the song to those who rapped before her.
- Damon, fern park, FL
You complete dolt! This is one of blondie's best works to date. It completely revolutionized the music scene: without 'Rapture' (which totally kicks arse) mainstream rap as we know it might not even exist.
- Keely, Brooklyn, NY
This song made me hate Blondie. I still like their other stuff, but man, what a turd of a tune.
- Dennis, Anchorage, AK
No no no, one way or another, without any socio-politico historical rap significance, Blondie did it first, and they did it best!! Nobody else can make an actual overt claim to rap besides Blondie, from the very beginning. And at least, she recognized it for what it would be, when she did. The bleached blonde pioneer/genius/goddess did it again!!
- Linda, San Diego, CA
Hey, what about Gil Scott Heron's The revolution will not be televised. One of the best raps ever.
- jason, brighton, England
I think it could be argued that, not only was this the first rap in a song that had its own original music, it was also the last rap in a song that had its own original music.
- Ash, Charleston, WV
What about Aerosmith's "Walk this Way" in 75?
- Jim, Chicago, United States
If you're looking for someone who rapped long before all others, check out Louis Jordan and His Tympany Five "Saturday Night Fish Fry".
- Diana, Kansas City, MO
Hazzmatt,You have a good point.Dylan rapped before we knew what rap was.It is the beauty of his lyrics.
- Dave, Holt, MI
I'd like to suggest, perhaps, Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues" from 1965 ish... "Man in a trench coat, badge out, laid off say he's got a bad cough, wants to get paid off..." I mean, it's not "Rap", per se, but it's got the rapid fire staccato rhythm--and attitude to spare...just a thought...
- Micheal, Columbia, MD
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