This 1981 ABC News ’20/20′ Report On The Rise Of Rap Music Is Equal Parts Fascinating And Hilarious

09.06.14 19 Comments
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“The new sound of the 80s. Suddenly you hear it everywhere. Rap music! It’s all beat and all talk. It tells you a story and makes you want to dance. Steve Fox examines an overnight phenomenon: rapping to the beat.” — ABC News, 1981.

Last night I ran across this 20/20 report from 1981 and found myself utterly captivated by it. I’m actually kind of astounded a national news organization like ABC was reporting on rap way back in 1981, as it was still a few years before Yo! MTV Raps came along in 1988 to help bring the likes of Run DMC, N.W.A., Public Enemy, De la Soul, Big Daddy Kane and others into the mainstream. What you see here may be mainstream America’s first introduction to rap/hip-hop music, and for that alone this should probably be placed in a time capsule. So props to correspondent Steve Fox — a former longtime ABC News guy who also appeared regularly on Nightline and Good Morning America and who I believe is still alive — and the producers who helped him put this segment together.

There’s also some really great performance footage in here, including a clip of Kurtis Blow performing “The Breaks” for a street crowd, along with some footage of kids break dancing, which Fox describes as “a competitive display of style, dance as ritual warfare.” Enjoy!

Here’s part one…

Here’s part two…

(Via Holly Bailey)

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