So you know your hip-hop? Well, here’s your first Hip-Hop question? Do you know the first rap group to appear on the the award winning 40-year plus running late-night live television sketch comedy and variety show called Saturday Night Live aka SNL.
Many notable entertainers have graced the stage but right now we’re focus on the first emcees to bless the SNL mics.
The Funky Four + One More was a pioneering hip-hop group from the Bronx, New York. Formed in 1976, the group originally consisted of four male M.C.’s (K.K., aka K.K. Rockwell (Kevin Smith); Keith Keith (Keith Caesar); Rahiem (Guy Todd Williams) and finally what is believed to be the first rap group to include a female rapper, Sha Rock (Sharon Green).
Rahiem left to join Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five and was replaced by Li’l Rodney C! (Rodney Stone).
When they signed to the Enjoy Records, none of the emcees were older than 17. The group’s debut was 1979’s epic 16-minute party jam called “Rappin’ and Rocking the House,” which interpolated Cheryl Lynn’s classic disco jam, “Got To Be Real.”
There music was played by musicians, not programmed in computers, something that is very uncommon to rap these days. In fact, all of the tracks they would ever record were with a live band and the first track was led by drummer Pumpkin, probably one of hip-hop’s first production king’s.
Sometime after the buzz with the first single they signed to history making, Sugarhill Records, lost the “Plus One More” and added “4 + 1 suffix.
The second and most significant hit for the rap crew was the 9-minute “That’s The Joint” from 1981. It interpolated singing group, A Taste of Honey’s” hit, “Rescue Me,” which would also be sampled a decade later by Positive K and turned into the top ten hit, “I Got A Man.”
Unfortunately, Funky 4 + 1 never released a full length album after a dispute with Sugarhill Records. Li’l Rodney C! and KK Rockwell left the group and started the Original Double Trouble, whom you can catch in the hip-hop be-boy cult classic movie, “Wild Style,” getting their rap on and Rodney C! would marry label mate, Angie B of Sequence. The same Angie B (Angela Brown) after marriage would take Rodney C last name and become grammy nominated and acclaimed R&B singer, Angie Stone.
Additionally, Jazzy Jeff started a solo career after the third line-up of the Funky 4 split up around 1983.
What makes this truly interesting is that it’s not the Jazzy Jeff with Fresh Prince you might be thinking of but this Jazzy would sue Jive Records and DJ Jazzy Jeff because of name usage. Believe or not, he won the lawsuit over the rights of the name Jazzy Jeff and released the single “King Heroin” which amazingly was on Jive Records. You do the math on that one.
Check out the FIRST EVER rap group to appear on Saturday Night Live introduced by that nights host, Debbie Harry from the group, Blonde.