By Jess Szabo | Arts Writer
July is a month of firsts for the music of Phoenix Radio and beyond. Here are just a few of the notable events that marked the first time something happened in Rap, Hip-Hop, Jazz, Blues, Gospel…and few other genres of music.
July 1, 1982: First hip-hop hit with lyrics about struggle in the inner city
The classic Hip-Hop that is a cornerstone of the music of Phoenix Radio made history on the very first day of July in 1982. It was on this day that the song “The Message” by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five was released.
While Hip-Hop music itself came from street musicians in the inner city, commercially successful Hip-Hop and Rap released prior to “The Message” tended to be dance or party music. By contrast, “The Message” addressed the realities of life in the inner city.
July 2, 1991: First big screen movie featuring Hip Hop music and the place it originated
Hip-Hop and Rap music are so popular today, we take it for granted that incorporating it into other art forms will be successful. But this was not always the case. Rap and Hip-Hop were previously featured in a few films, but the music was portrayed as a fad, and often a harmful one. John Singleton’s “Boyz N the Hood,” released on July 2, 1991, became the first film from a major studio to both feature Rap and Hip-Hop music and to tell a story about life in the inner-city from the perspective of people who lived there.
July 6, 1991: First time grunge music enters the mainstream
Grunge music may not be featured on Phoenix Radio, but it is a genre of music that is also loved by many listeners. Grunge music began in Seattle in 1983. The Melvins are widely acknowledged as the first Grunge band. But it was Alice in Chains’ song “Man in the Box” that would become the first Grunge track to hit the mainstream charts on July 6, 1991.
July 6, 1937: First time the drummer was at the forefront in a Jazz recording
Record releases are not typically “historical” moments in music for anyone but the people directly involved with the album and those who follow the history of specific bands or musicians closely. However, the July 6, 1937 recording of Louis Prima’s “Sing Sing Sing” by Benny Goodman and his orchestra lasted for eight minutes and forty-three seconds, and featured a drum solo by Gene Krupa that brought drums to the forefront of Jazz music.
July 9, 1981: First time a national news magazine covered Rap music
According to most reviews, the ABC News program 20/20’s July 9, 1981 program “Rappin to the Beat” is what many would call “cringe” or “cringeworthy” in the popular slang of today.
In 2015, the music blog “Music is My Sanctuary,” reported that the news program seemed to have sent a reporter out to investigate “that noise.” At least one commenter on the site strongly disagreed, arguing that the news report made the newly emerging genre seem promising. Either way, this marked the first time a national news program covered Rap music.
July 17, 1954: First Newport Jazz Festival
The Newport Jazz Festival is of course a major annual event for Jazz fans. But it also provided the blueprint for what we know of as music festivals of all genres today. And the very first one was held July 17-July 18, 1954.
July 18, 2014: First one hundred million likes record on Facebook set by Shakira
Pop singer Shakira is most famous for her song “Hips Don’t Lie” featuring Hatian Rapper Wyclef Jean…and for controversy among the belly dance community due to her fusion of popular music and belly dance. But plenty of people must have loved her work in 2014, because on July 18, she became the first person to accumulate one hundred million likes on Facebook.
July 26, 2006: First guitar owned by Paul McCartney sold at auction
While it may not be a “first” for music, the Beatles were certainly either the first, or the greatest, or both in many musical categories. They certainly inspired and influenced nearly all of the popular music in America today, of all genres. On July 26, 2006, Paul McCartney’s first guitar went forwhat would be the equivalent of about half a million U.S. dollars at an Abbey Roads studio auction.
July 27, 1940: First time record sales were measured for popularity
This day marks the launch of “The National List of Best Selling Retail Records” by Billboard Magazine. Tommy Dorsey, Glenn Miller, and Frank Sinatra dominate the chart. Later, this chart would become what we now know today as the Billboard Hot 100.
Be sure to tune in to 95.5 FM: The Heat every day to hear the music of several of these record breaking artists, and more of the best in classic Hip-Hop, Rap, Blues, Jazz, Gospel, and Reggae.
*Source: Songfacts website, calendar.songfacts.com.