What a song.
One of the all time greatest rappers in the early 90's, KRS-ONE (Knowledge Reigns Supreme Over Nearly Everyone) released his work under the name Boogie Down Productions for years leading up to his 1997 hit album "I Got Next". Even though Boogie Down Productions was technically a duo, the majority of their releases featured only KRS-ONE. He had close working relationships with hip hop production royalty, DJ Premier, J Dilla, Kid Capri, and Hitmen, and a very loyal underground following.
Then in 1997 "I Got Next" came almost out of nowhere. Featuring the hit "Step Into A World", as well as a remix to the song (hidden songs were the fuckin best on CD's, kids today will never understand) that featured Puff Daddy of all people.
"Step Into A World (Raptures Delight)"'s theme revolves around a hip-hop "nirvana". The concept is that real MC's, DJ's, B-boys, etc. can be taken away by the "Rap-ture" to a hip-hop heaven.
The song was an instant hit because of the infectious beat sampled from the classic
Mohawks - The Champ
(if this sounds familiar its because its one of the most sampled songs in all of hip-hop and has been featured in thousands of records)
and the #1 hit sampled vocal from the unpredictable Blondie "Rapture".
ORIGINAL - Blondie - Rapture
Somehow, this was the first #1 hit song EVER that featured a "rap".
Artists like Grandmaster Flash, Afrika Bambaataa, and Kurtis Blow had been rapping since the mid-'70s, and The Sugarhill Gang cracked the Hot 100 in 1979 with "Rapper's Delight," but until "Rapture," rap had never been incorporated into a hit pop song.
Debbie Harry did the rap, and it was really ridiculous, with lyrics about the "man from Mars eating cars," but the novelty helped the song become a hit.
Harry's rap is so goofy that it sounds like she could be mocking the genre, but this was very early in the evolution of hip-hop, and many of the rhymes that came out of the New York block parties were just as silly. Harry and Chris Stein of Blondie championed rap and got involved in the community, often attending these block parties - they even took Nile Rodgers to one, which is where he learned that his song "Good Times" was a DJ favorite. Blondie brought rap to a far larger audience with this song; Debbie Harry says that a lot of rappers - including members of Mobb Deep and Wu-Tang Clan - told her it was the first rap song they ever heard, since the genre wasn't welcome on the radio then.
Before this record, rappers had typically taken funk, soul, or disco records and looped the intro beats to extend the breaks to rap over.
Yo! MTV Raps host Fab 5 Freddy is actually featured in the video and gets a shoutout in the song. Blondie and Freddy crossed paths at an NYC club and hit it off. Freddy suggested the group do a verse about him. Harry wrote the second verse to "Rapture", ran it by Freddy and he and his crew loved it. Grandmaster Flash also gets a shoutout - "Flash is fast, flash is cool".
Blondie originally met Fab 5 Freddy and his crew at a club. They all became friends, and one day Freddy jokingly suggested that Debbie Harry should write a song about them. She did, and the result was the rap that is the second half of the song. She sent it to Freddy, he and his crew loved it and she ended up recording it.
For KRS-ONE's version, he didn't fully sample the Blondie vocal, but instead had singer Keva Holman lend her talents.
p.s. - The kid who used to drive me to school when I was a freshman introduced me to this album, and a ton of amazing hip-hop, (shoutout Seth Fox). This remix is what sold me on Puff Daddy. He was flashy as fuck and kind of annoying but for some reason hearing him on this remix with a bonafide "real hip-hop" artist like KRS-ONE turned me into a fan. Even if there's 0.01% chance he wrote his own verse.