This was written by Donnie Iris, who was the guitarist and vocalist of The Jaggerz. Says Iris: "The song itself was just something that I wrote watching people in nightclubs, in all the bars that we were playing. You'd see these dudes go over and start rapping to chicks - in those days, we did call it 'rappin',' and they were just basically picking chicks up and hitting on them. That's how the song came about, just watching these guys and all their moves.
We did sets in those nightclubs. Our shows were maybe two or three sets, and while we were sitting around taking a break between sets, I checked it out there, too. That's what was going on, and that's how I wrote that tune."
The term "Rap" has evolved over the years to describe a style of music, and a "Rapper" is now a person who performs this music, but as Iris explains, the term had significance even in 1969: "Now they call it hitting on somebody. When you were talking to somebody, you'd say, 'Yeah, I was rappin' to this chick,' and that's what we called it. It was a hip way of saying 'Talking.' It's different now, but that's what it meant back then."
This was The Jaggerz' only hit, but Iris went on to join Wild Cherry and formed his own band with keyboard player Mark Avsec, who was also in Wild Cherry. With his band, Iris had hits with "Ah! Leah!," "Love Is Like A Rock" and "My Girl." Iris told us about The Jaggerz: "We got turned down probably by 8 or 10 different record companies before Neil Bogart at Buddha decided to give it a shot. I don't know if anybody really heard a hit in it or not, but he did. He thought that it had a good shot at doing something, and he was right. I mean, it took off like crazy.
Back in those days I don't know that there were a lot of touring bands. There were some shows I remember doing that were big shows that we never would have done without a hit record. I remember in particular in Pittsburgh, we did Three Rivers Stadium and I remember The Beach Boys and The Supremes were there. We started doing shows like that, but they weren't like a tour. It wasn't like when we had 'Leah.' When we did those tunes, we went out on a club tour of our own or we did maybe a 6-week tour with this band or that band, opening for, like, Hall and Oates, or whoever it might be, but that didn't happen back when 'The Rapper' was popular." (Thanks to Donnie Iris for speaking with us about this song. In 2006, he released Ellwood City, which is available on donnieiris.com. Check out our interview with Donnie Iris.)
Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn January 25th 1970, "The Rapper" by the Jaggerz entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; and on March 15th it peaked at #2 (for 1 week) and spent 13 weeks on the Top 100 (and for 6 of those 13 weeks it was on the Top 10)... The one week it was at #2, the #1 record was "Bridge Over Troubled Water" by Simon and Garfunkel... The group had two other records made the Top 100 and they both also charted in 1970; "I Call My Baby Candy" (#75) and "What A Bummer) (#88).
Jordan from Los Angeles, CaThe rapper in the song seduces the women with untruths
Jordan from Los Angeles, CaThe song is about a trickster who seduces women. The singer warns the girl in the third verse to "Face Reality". The song's chorus states about the Rapper that "Nobody's after". The song ends with a group of applause in the studio.
Daevid from Glendale, CaNot a bad little tune for a one-hit wonder.