Funky Four Plus One (also known as Funky 4 + 1) was the first Hip-Hop/Rap group from The Bronx, New York, United States to receive a recording deal. They were notable for having a female MC, and were the first rap group to perform live on a national television broadcast. Jazzy Jeff from Funky Four Plus One is not the same artist as DJ Jazzy Jeff from DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince. When Jazzy Jeff was setting up a solo career after the (3rd) Funky 4 split up around 1983 he sued Jive Records (who had subsequently signed DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince) and he won a lawsuit over the rights to the name "Jazzy Jeff".
Formed in 1976, the group was the first hip hop group to have a female MC, Sha Rock. They made their debut on Enjoy Records with the 16-minute "Rappin and Rocking the House". Their most significant hit was the nine-minute "That's the Joint" (1981). "That's the Joint" was sampled from A Taste of Honey's "Rescue Me". Music critic Robert Christgau named it the best song of the 1980s in a list for The Village Voice. In his 1981 review of the single, Christgau gave it an A rating and wrote of its musical significance, "The instrumental track, carried by Sugarhill bassist Doug Wimbish, is so compelling that for a while I listened to it alone on its B-side version. And the rapping is the peak of the form, not verbally—the debut has funnier words—but rhythmically. Quick tradeoffs and clamorous breaks vary the steady-flow rhyming of the individual MCs, and when it comes to Sha-Rock, Miss Plus One herself, who needs variation?"
Their other notable recordings included the almost sixteen-minute "Rappin' and Rockin' The House", and Jazzy Jeff's recording of "King Heroin", from which a beat was sampled for use in the theme of the "The Apprentice" which taken from the O'Jays' "(For The Love Of) Money". The group never recorded a full studio album.
They were the first hip hop group to appear on a national television show, Saturday Night Live, in a season six episode hosted by Blondie's Deborah Harry (some have mistakenly reported that Run-DMC was the first rap group to appear on SNL - in fact, Run-DMC were first rappers to perform on MTV some years later).
The original members were The Voice of K.K. aka K.K. Rockwell (Kevin Smith), Keith Keith (Keith Caesar), Sha Rock (Sharon Green), Rahiem (Guy Todd Williams). Rahiem later left the group to join Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five. Sha Rock temporarily left as well, and they were replaced by Lil' Rodney C! and Jazzy Jeff, who became the 'New' Funky Four and with the return of Sha Rock who became the Plus One More.
With the addition of Lil` Rodney C! and Jazzy Jeff, the group became the "New" Funky Four, with D.J. Breakout and D.J. Baron. None of the Emcees were older than 17 when they signed with the Enjoy label, with "Rappin' And Rockin' The House". This utilized elements of Cheryl Lynn's "Got To Be Real", over which a 16-minute rap commentary was placed. The tracks were recorded by a live band led by drummer Pumpkin, arguably rap's first production hero, and it was an impressive overall introduction.
Shortly afterwards they switched to Sugarhill Records, losing the "Plus One More" and adding 4 + 1 suffix. Prior to this cast D.J. Mark The 45 King would act as Breakout's record boy after Pookie D, locating and passing records up to the decks as Breakout requested them. They made their debut for Sugarhill in 1980 with "That's The Joint", a song arranged by jazz-funk organist Clifton Jiggs Chase. Their performances at Bronx Club parties included full blown dance routines.
After a dispute with Sugarhill, Lil` Rodney C! and KK Rockwell left the group and started The Original Double Trouble, at which time Rodney C! would marry Angela (Angie B) Brown of The Sequence fame aka (Grammy Nominated) Angie Stone. Jazzy Jeff went on to have a solo career.
In 2008, their song "That's The Joint" was ranked number 41 on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of Hip Hop.
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