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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 this, 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 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.
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