Justin Timberlake has been making the rounds, doing talk shows and promoting his new movie, “The Social Network.” While hitting the talk shows videotaped in New York City, Timberlake stopped in for an interview at “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” Wednesday at Rockefeller Plaza. With house band The Roots backing, the two performed a medley of rap songs they called the “History of Rap,” and the Internet can’t stop talking about it. Even Jon Stewart at “The Daily Show” commended Timberlake and Fallon’s performance when the pop singer/actor made an appearance on his show Thursday night.
Needless to say, the video clip of “The History of Rap” has gone viral.
From “Rapper’s Delight” to “New York State of Mind,” from Beastie Boys to Eminem to Soulja Boy, Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake nailed down some of the most memorable, totally unforgettable tunes that have made (and are still making) rap music (and hip hop) what it is today. Both men are adept at mimicry, and their vocals on many of the songs were spot on. They not only paid homage to some really good tunes and some catchy lyrics, they also had fun with it.
In what looked to be a spontaneous move from interview to singing the old Sugarhill Gang classic “Rapper’s Delight,” the first rap song to ever place in the Top 40 on the American pop charts, Timberlake recalled that, when he was a member of NSYNC, they invited Sugarhill Gang to open for them at a particular concert.
“They came,” he said, “and opened up… rocked… rocked my world.”
The Sugarhill Gang not only were the first rap artist ever to hit the charts, they placed “Rapper’s Delight” at #2 on VH1’s “Top 100 Hip Hop Songs Of All Time.” “Rapper’s Delight” made it to #36 on the pop charts and #4 on the R&B chart. Rolling Stone magazine would place it in the top half of their “500 Greatest Songs of All Time” (#248). The single, according to Billboard, has sold over 8 million copies to date.
And oddly enough, The Sugarhill Gang and “Rapper’s Delight” began as a novelty idea. It was a novelty that would spark a worldwide hit, an enduring pop culture mainstay (the song appears in dozens of movies and is referenced on television shows all the time), and brought to the fore a street style of lyric styling that had gotten little to no attention from the mainstream music world up until that point. It would blossom into a multi-billion-dollar-per-year industry within a decade.
And it anchors the history of rap — in more ways than one. And what looked to be spontaneous turned out to be a very well-orchestrated medley.
For those who enjoy hip hop, rap, and good music fun, “The History of Rap,” performed by Justin Timberlake, Jimmy Fallon, and The Roots, follows.
“Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” NBC Television