(Debuted June 2, 1984, Peaked #56, 15 Weeks on the Chart)
Rap music -- for better or worse -- arrived during the 1980s. While the early stuff is great, it really didn't get heard in my neighborhood until much later. For those of us who lived in the suburbs, our first taste of the style came with Herbie Hancock's "Rockit," which we picked up through its video. The first rap tune I ever heard on a friend's boombox was "Jam On It."
Newcleus was a group that came out of Brooklyn in the late 1970s, just as "house parties" were shaping the early development of hip hop music. The core of the group eventually centered around two cousins and their future spouses, and the family connection led to the group's name. While "Jam On it" was their only pop hit, it was actually a sequel to the group's song "Jam-On's Revenge," which also features the sped-up voices and the "wikki wikki" refrain.
While much of the criticism leveled at rap music focuses on its glorification of violence and the "thug life," the fact that many of the early songs were purely fun is overlooked. "Jam On it" has an irresistible rhythm, goofy lyrics about space aliens and is still recognizable to those who heard it when it was still "fresh." Although the style would soon pass the group by, they still need to be remembered for helping bring it to the suburban white kids who helped fuel its phenomenal growth.