The Smurfs Take Over Hip Hop (Circa 1982)

Posted on August 23, 2011 by Brad Miller | 1 Comment

First off, let’s start by stating this isn’t in honor or some co-sign for the new movie*. From what I’ve seen in the previews it’s probably going to be horrible and I have no intentions on seeing it. That said, I’m not saying that on some, “Oh my god, they ruined the cartoon”, nerd-generated anger either. In truth, I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen a full episode of the cartoon. It just wasn’t my thing. I wasn’t a big fan of that new era of cutesy cartoons that came out in the early 80s; rainbow brite, care bears, smurfs, etc…

Mind you, I was still getting my cartoon viewing on real strong, but I was into Shogun Warriors, Spider-Man, and classic Hanna Barbera, and things of this nature. In fact, I’m still on that. Smurfs wasn’t/isn’t doing it for me, I could tell that at a glance.

However, I’m well aware of their existence, basic life challenges with the giant and all, and their overwhelming popularity. The latter, if only because of, what I would consider, their unlikely championing in Hip Hop.

I’m assuming it all started with Sypder D’s “Smerphies Dance” and from there, spread like wildfire. Just by searching my itunes for “Smurf”, I found several related tracks. It did require my pre-exisiting knowledge of three different spellings: Smurf, Smirf, Smerf. Then a quick web search turned up a few more that I wasn’t aware of. Likely there’s at least a handful more out there. As for the different spellings, I’m guessing they may have used them in fear of lawsuits? Who knows and there’s no real reason to seek to apply logic to this Smurf madness.

1)Spyder D is one of the very few in the batch that is still able to illicit some spins in current times. It’s got that slowed down Roland TR-808 beat that sounds good regardless of the ridiculousness in the subject matter. I don’t know how, but he also manages to make a cool sounding chorus out of, “Heads, shoulders, knees, and toes/Smurf your body across the floor.” As you may have guessed by the hook and the obvious title, Spyder D is teaching you how to do the Smurf dance, which is apparently, according to his estimations is, “The hottest new dance in the universe.”

I actually never thought about it before, but I can’t think of any earlier rap songs dedicated to a specific dance so this might be the first? At least, it is probably the first popular one. The fact that it was a “hit” song at the time and inspired a bunch of others to jump on the Smurf bandwagon, explains the popularity of people introducing rap dance songs for years to come.

Spyder D-Smerphies Dance 1982:
[audio:http://www.fifthelementonline.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Spyder-D-Smerphies-Dance.mp3|titles=Spyder-D - Smerphies Dance]

2)Jalil of Whodini makes his debut here with “Smirfathon U.S.A”. His basic goal is the same as Spyder D’s, but he lacks a comparable backing track as “Smerphie Dance”. The beat does have a bit of an awkward charm to it. Jalil’s flow is a bit stiff and it’s sort of hard to believe that he sounded so great later that same year when Whodini dropped “Magic’s Wand”.

Jalil "Smirfathon U.S.A" (1982):
[audio:http://www.fifthelementonline.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Jalil-Smirfathon-U.S.A..mp3|titles=Jalil-Smirfathon U.S.A.]

3)Chapter Three dropped the “Smurf Trek” with the accompaniment of the awesome Grand Groove Bunch. Earlier the same year, Chapter Three made their debut with “Real Rocking Groove”, flipping Cheryl Lynn’s “Got To Be Real” quite nicely. The lone addition to their discography is “Smurf Trek", which is a bit bizarre honestly. The basic idea is, The Chapter Three leave earth for space because of all the problems we face, including an impending nuclear disaster. Things are shaky out there, in space, at first, but soon are put to ease when they encounter some fun-loving Smurfs. As usual, the Grand Groove Bunch, provide a great backing track with some heavy drums, blaring spaced-out horns, and rumbling bass, that will you have enjoying this track while forgetting how strange it all really is.

Chapter Three-Smerf Trek (1982):
[audio:http://www.fifthelementonline.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Chapter-Three-Smurf-Trek.mp3|titles=Chapter Three - Smurf Trek]

4)Washington DC based, Tyrone Brunson, paid dues in area bands as an instrumentalist and vocalist for several bands, but made his solo artist debut in ’82 with “The Smurf”. It’s, presumably, Hip Hop influenced, directly or indirectly, but resides better in the Electro-Funk category. He picks up the tempo and let’s the music do the talking, on this vocal free Electric Boogie Dance anthem.

Tyrone Brunson-The Smurf (1982):
[audio:http://www.fifthelementonline.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Tyrone-Bunson-The-Smurf.mp3|titles=Tyrone Bunson-The Smurf]

5)Also in the funk vein you have Cory “The Smirf”, on The Sound Of Brooklyn Label. It’s a bit minmilistic, but it’s got a nice groove and the un-credited female vocalist has a good voice. However, the songs crowning Hip Hop-based jewel may be that it is some of the earlier work by the man later known as King Shameek, credited as the Engineer.

Cory-The Smirf (1982):
[audio:http://www.fifthelementonline.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Cory-The-Smirf.mp3|titles=Cory-The Smirf]

6)The Micronawts “Smurf Across The Surf” is a great production and allows the vocal effected Smurfy voice to do its thing to surprisingly fun results. Afrika Bambaataa is credited for “mixing” it and it’s apparently the second release on the Tuff City Label. I still enjoy this, nuff said…

Micranawts-Smurf Across The Surf (1982):
[audio:http://www.fifthelementonline.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/B2-The-Micronawts-Letzmurph-Acrossdasurf-Radio-Mix-Kwik.mp3|titles=B2 The Micronawts- Letzmurph Acrossdasurf (Radio Mix - Kwik)]

7)Speaking of which, for some odd reason, I was feeling this next joint back in the day, Electric Power Band “Papa Smerf” (1983). After an introduction by a Howard Cosell sound-alike, you get “treated” to some day in the life type stories by Papa Smerf. From my brief knowledge of the character, I’m guessing this isn’t a great reflection of Papa Smurf’s ideas, politics and social interactions, but the beat is hard not to bop your head to and those sweet lovely voices singing “Papa Smurf’s Big Throwdown” every so succulently apparently hypnotized me into repeated listen of this in ’83, purely from a radio show dubbed tape. Finally got the wax a few years ago and was way more excited than need be, but nostalgia is powerful.

Electric Power Band-Papa Smerf Throwdown (1983):
[audio:http://www.fifthelementonline.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Electric-Power-Band-Papa-Smerf.mp3|titles=Electric Power Band-Papa Smerf]

8)Celluloid Records got so bold as to release a record under the artist name, The Smurfs. Produced by Steven Brown, Bernard Fowler & assistance from Bill Laswell’s band, Material. Darryl Short is credited for Bass & Vocals; Brodie Williams and Robert Kasper on Guitar, Vocals; Bernard Fowler for Percussion & Vocals; Steven Brown was a busy man in the studio as the Writer, Producer, Lead Vocals, DMX Drum Machine, & Keyboards. The song is released later in the Smurf game, coming out in ’83, but it’s a rough jam! Rapping, Vocoder teasers, singing chorus, blazing guitars, all over some of the finest DMX programming you’re likely to ever hear.

The Smurfs-Smurf For What It's Worth (1983):
[audio:http://www.fifthelementonline.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Smurfs-Smurf-For-What-Its-Worth.mp3|titles=Smurfs - Smurf For What It's Worth]

9)Sidney feat Black White & Co “Let’s Break (Smurf)”, this is one that I was not up on back in the day. I found it online several years ago while doing some online research. It’s a French record and is pretty weird, perhaps even weirder than the others. It sounds like some session musicians decided to “do a rap song”. I mean just look at the title, “Let’s Break (Smurf)”, I don’t even think that makes sense, in French or English. This song is all over the place with singing, rapping, keyboard scratching, and other ensuing chaos. Plus it's really late in the game in 1984, probably post Beat Street...if you know what I mean.

Sidney feat Black White & Co-Lets Break (Smurf) 1984:
[audio:http://www.fifthelementonline.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Sidney+Feat.+Black+White++Co+-+Lets+Break+Smurf.mp3|titles=Sidney+Feat.+Black+White++Co+-+Let's+Break+(Smurf)]

10)Gigolo Tony had career filled with message raps, bass music anthems, and wasn't afraid to tackle a novelty record. He proved that with  "The Parents Of Roxanne" in 1985 and came back one more time with "Smurf Rock" in 1986. It's an up-tempo jam with a nice swing to it and a "La La La La" hook that I suppose you should be envisioning the Smurfs singing... He fills the song with some PG-17 opposite sex Raps, show tune keyboards, Fat Albert flavored Human Beatboxing, and some sing-a-long songs you'd likely hear at a double-dutch competition. Fun stuff ensues such as hitting people in the head with rotten bananas, claims of body-slamming Mr. T, 

Gigolo Tony-Smurf Rock 1986:

BONUS TRACK: Disco Four-We're At The Party (1982)

This isn't a "Smurf" song really, but it has some relevance and I thought I'd end on something top notch. This is one of my all time favorite feel-good rap songs easily! I can play this whenever I'm not motivated and this picks up the spirits. The production and arrangement if fantastic, done by Eric Matthew, who produced some great early 80s joints. The Disco Four are one of the finest harmonizing groups in Hip Hop of all time and this song is the proof. I need to do a Disco Four blog soon...

Anyway, to my Smurf point. I'm pretty sure the famous intro, "Ha Ha Ha, do you really wanna party? " is supposed to be a Smurf voice. Also, later in the song they have a line, "Get Up, Get down, while we pass it around/and show us the latest dance in town/It's the Smurf, NO!, the E.T./ha ha ha, well I don't care, just come and dance with me". Which is great in challenging all the Smurf bandwagon riding and instead sparking off something with the next hot thing, E.T. which was breaking records in the movie theaters at the time.

Disco 4-We're At The Party (1982):
[audio:http://www.fifthelementonline.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/WERE-AT-THE-PARTY.mp3|titles=WE'RE AT THE PARTY]

-Editors Notes:

*However, the movie did remind me that I remembered being curious at age 12 as to why all these rap songs were referencing the Smurfs. Where my rap idols really riding for them like that?!?! This blog is dedicated to my confusion on that time…

Written By Kevin Beacham

Posted in RedefineHipHop


1 Response

Kevin
Kevin

October 05, 2011

Ha. Yeah, Hip Hop went Smurf crazy for a minute. Soon as I posted this I remembered I forgot a great one; Gigolo Tony-Smurf Rock. Definitely worth adding to you Smurf Rap Collection… :)

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