Back in the day, hip-hop meant not only music but the street culture surrounding rap: DJing, breakdancing, graffiti writing. All these elements are displayed in Blondie’s “Rapture” video. Since the song reached #1 on the Billboard Top 40 in February 1981, perhaps it’s the first time many American heard rap. Yes, I agree “Rapture” isn’t a real rap. It’s a catchy approximation. The “Rapture” video, unsurprisingly, became a staple in the pre-MTV NYC club scene.
Debbie Harry struts her stuff around a low-budget set, nods to the DJ spinning (a spaced-out Jean Michel Basquiat), watches Lee Quinones and Fab 5 Freddy spray-paint graffiti, awkwardly cavorts with her Blondie band mates, window-shops upscale department store displays. That last moment transports me to the NYC of past times, where the vast gaping disparity between rich and poor living on the same tiny island was always visible. Silk stockings and sweatsuits, side by side.