A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Let's Get Crackin'

Shock was a pioneering funk rock collective from Portland, Oregon. Between 1980 and 1983, they released four albums of jazz- and soul-inspired boogie jams and party songs. The group’s bandleader was keyboard player Roger Sause. He led a rotating membership of musicians, sometimes numbering as many as ten performers.

For Shock’s second album, Sause collaborated with The Magician, a Portland producer and local music legend named Marlon McClain, former frontman, vocalist, and lead guitarist for R&B group Pleasure. Throughout the 1970s, Pleasure released seven acclaimed albums on Fantasy Records. The Magician knew his way around the industry. He offered to mentor the group and helped broker a record deal between Shock and Fantasy.

“Let’s Get Crackin’” was Shock’s first big hit. It was co-written by Sause, McClain, and Shock vocalist, Malcolm Noble. Taking inspiration from “Rapper’s Delight,” Noble adopts a rap cadence, simple rhymes, and a talking vocal delivery. Early in the song, he raps, “This jam is not only nutritious, It can be, to the groovers, delicious.”

Released in August 1981, “Let’s Get Crackin’” quickly took over the airwaves in Chicago, Atlanta, and St. Louis. “Malcolm Noble’s slick, street-wise vocals and a recurring chorus hook ride this perky funky track,” wrote Record World magazine. The Portland Observer also championed the “impudent, highly infectious funk anthem.” The song entered the Billboard Hot Soul Singles chart in early September. It spent nine weeks on the charts, peaking at #52. By the end of the year, Fantasy Records reported they’d sold more than 100,000 copies. Rolling Stone magazine picked Shock as one of the decade’s top ten up-and-coming new artists.

Two years later, Shock called it quits. Sause and McClain continued to collaborate. Throughout the 1980s, the two wrote songs and toured together with Seattle smooth jazz saxophonist Kenny G. Noble continued writing rap music, changing his stage name to MC Ol’ Skool in the 1990s.

Thirty years later, in 2011, Shock released After Shock, a compilation of rarities, unreleased cuts, and live performances. On one track, Noble introduces “Let’s Get Crackin’” to an enthusiastic audience, declaring that “this is the song that put Portland on the hip-hop map.”

Did we get it wrong? It happens. Send us an email and let's get it corrected right away!