Tuesday, December 5, 2017

"Roxanne, Roxanne" by UTFO

Song#:  2243
Date:  03/09/1985
Debut:  79
Peak:  77
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Hip-Hop

Pop Bits:  This Brooklyn quartet got started after performing as backing dancers for the hip-hop trio Whodini. They split off on their own and began UTFO, which stood for "Untouchable Force Organization." They signed on to Select Records and their first single, "Hanging Out," didn't make much of an impact. However, the record's b-side, "Roxanne, Roxanne," started to get attention and soon it was hitting the R&B chart. It would reached #10 there while getting to #40 Dance. The song generated some interest at Pop and it would end up circling the bottom of the chart for a few weeks. It would be their only Pop chart entry. The group would grab five more low-peaking R&B singles and release four more album, but nothing they would do would be as popular or as influential as this song. They would call it a day in 1992.

ReduxReview:  This is definitely some ol' school rap. I remember this song being released back in the day, but I had never heard it. Rap was rarely played in my little Midwest community. You might occasionally hear a hip-hop track through someone else who had discovered it, but it certainly wasn't a style of music that was going to be heard on our local radio stations. At least not for a while. Later on I'd have to play catch-up on a lot of older rap tunes like this one. The show Yo! MTV Raps helped out. This track is fun, but it isn't one of my favorites from the time. It just didn't stick in my brain like a lot of others. I never really understood the big deal about it and why so many other artists had to try and follow it up (see below). Yet, the song was quite influential and remains a hip-hop classic.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Pop music is not all that unfamiliar with answer (or response) songs, which is where an artist will write and record their own song in response to another artist's song. For example, Carole King wrote "Oh, Neil!" in response to Neil Sedaka's 1959 #9 hit "Oh, Carol!" Typically, just one answer song will come out. In the case of "Roxanne, Roxanne," several artists wrote their own response songs and it led to what would be known as the "Roxanne Wars." It mainly started when UTFO failed to make an appearance at a show. Some other rappers were talking about the no-show and a young 14-year-old artist named Lolita Shanté Gooden heard them and offered to write a song to get revenge on the group. They thought it was a cool idea and they recorded the track "Roxanne's Revenge." The song even prompted Gooden to change her name to Roxanne Shanté. Although the song was not a big chart hit, getting to #22 R&B, it was widely popular and it set off a storm of other artists doing their own answer songs. By the end of the year, no less that twenty-five response songs to "Roxanne, Roxanne" had been recorded. The number continued to grow in the years following. Even UTFO themselves got into the game. In response to "Roxanne's Revenge," they recorded "The Real Roxanne," which was performed by Elease Jack, who the group then dubbed The Real Roxanne. The song was issued as a single and got to #44 on the R&B chart.


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