A film about Northwest hip-hop from 1982
In 1982 hip-hop music was in its earliest stages. Seattle was no exception, with early groups like Emerald Street Boys and Jam Delight rocking local live crowds with their forays into this new microphone and turntable culture. One funky Seattle band in particular was embracing its hip-hop curiosity via a genre-bending attitude. That band was Teleclere, and in 1982 Teleclere released a 7″ single called “Fantasy Love,” which was a traditional R&B ballad mixed with some spicy funk. The b-side to this record, titled “Ultra Groove,” is much harder to categorize.
The track’s full title is “Ultra Groove (The Jailhouse Jam)” and it begins with a minute of sexy guitar licks and synthy, sci-fi sound effects. Tony Benton is the vocalist, Lamont Thompson plays the guitar, and Roger Evans III is on the keyboard. Then a robotic voice raps, “Ultra Groove is going through my feet, this is a groove to make you move to the beat, Teleclere here with the funky sound, to make your party get on down, not too high and not too low, Ultra Groove is in stery-ery-o.” This early rap evokes the birth of hip-hop emceeing and the freestyle ethos of putting short rhymes together.
After some singing, Benton’s rap voice returns, dropping a short verse of rhymes. The rap is about finding a girl sitting down and getting her up to dance with you. The song ends with a rhythmic chant of “Move your feet, clap your hands, everybody dance.” Similar to King Tim III by Fatback Band, this track has a short rap nestled into a longer song. The entire aesthetic of the song is not rap, but “Ultra Groove” has a distinct and unmistakable rap element to it. Benton continued supporting Seattle hip-hop culture in 1983 releasing “Christmas Rap” by Emerald Street Boys on his Telemusic label. Written by Novocaine132