Blondie's 'Rapture:' The New Wave Goes Hip Hop, Meaning And Lyrics

By Jacob Shelton

The first rap song to go to #1 on the Billboard pop chart? That would be "Rapture" by Blondie, from 1981, featuring the fresh rhymes of Debbie Harry. The song hasn't aged well, and neither has the look -- of an already-successful white artist crafting a pop hit with her version of an urban black genre of music. But before we go down that path of analysis, let's remember something: that in 1981, Debbie Harry was just about the coolest person in the most interesting music scene of the Groovy era. She wasn't exactly born to rap, but she and her band Blondie were eclectic experimenters, drawing inspiration from and giving it back to the musical eco-system in New York.

Fixtures in the New York City art scene of the late '70s and early '80s, Blondie and Debbie Harry were in rarified air. They could play punk, they could play disco, and they could play funk and it was all cool, it was all Blondie. The band's incredible list of influences is most on display in "Rapture," their last number one single and the very first number on song in the United States to feature rap vocals.

If there's a sound of New York at the beginning of the 1980s it's "Rapture." This mix of disparate genres all jammed together in one six-and-a-half-minute song is a link between the quickly waning disco era and the emergent sound of hip hop. Blondie definitely released better singles than "Rapture," but it's with this song that they introduced masses of white American listeners to one of the most important art forms of the 20th century.