Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: July 1981, ABC's 20/20 Brings Rap To The Masses

Posted by Billyjam, December 10, 2013 03:36pm | Post a Comment

20/20 Report Hip-Hop Special (1981) - Part 1

Above and below are the two parts of the very first network TV news program report on rap/hip-hop: an entertaining episode of ABC's 20/20 from July, 1981. While Yo! MTV Raps is routinely (and rightfully) credited for speeding up the popularity of rap/hip-hop by bringing the inner-city, Bronx NY born culture and musical form directly into the living rooms of middle America and exposing many non-urban kids to rap for the first time, it came along a lot later than this. The MTV weekly two hour rap music video show, hosted by Fab 5 Freddy, Ed Lover and Doctor Dre, did not begin airing until the summer of 1988 and hence was by no means the original introduction of rap music to mainstream America. That honor/distinction goes to ABC's 20/20 investigative journalism/news magazine program, that even predates MTV's very existance (well by one month), which was the very first national/network TV news show to do an in-depth spotlight on hip-hop or "rap" music, as it was still generally referred to back then, for a national audience.

Before this broadcast there had been select showcases of rap on other national network TV shows: most notably Kurtis Blow who appeared on Soul Train in October of 1980, and Funky 4 + 1 who were musical guests on Saturday Night Live in February of 1981 (both of whom are also featured here). But for a full-fledged report on rap on a national TV show this engaging and fun-to-watch ten minute segment was a first - broadcasting two years after the very first recorded rap song was released (The Fatback Band's "King Tim III (Personality Jock)" on Spring Records) and two years after the first rap hit (Sugarhill Gang's "Rappers Delight" on Sugar Hill Records). "Rapper's Delight" which reached number 36 on the charts gets referenced a lot as does both Kurtis Blow's "The Breaks" 1980 hit, and Blondie's "Rapture" that was a number one hit that year in this (now quaint) report on "the new sound of the eighties" that's "all beat and all talk."

20/20 Report Hip-Hop Special (1981) - Part 2

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20/20 1981 Rap Report (1), Billy Jam (40), Kurtis Blow (4), Blondie Rapture (1), Sugarhill Gang (1), Hip-hop History Amoeblog (33), Hip-hop History Tuesdays (43), Hip-hop History (63), Yo! Mtv Raps (1), Mtv (12), Hip Hop (94), Rap (134)