Ladies First Ė The Story of The Sequence - Part 1 with Blondy. By JayQuan Summer 2007

 

So who were the first female Emcees? Those who donít know any better will say Salt N Pepa or Roxanne Shanteí. Those who know better will tell you that itís my girl Sha Rock of the Funky 4 + 1. As we do these stories one thing is clear; EVERYONE claims to be the first to do something. Unfortunately we will never know in most instances. But as far as RECORDED Hip Hop goes Cheryl The Pearl, Blondy and Angie B (now Angie Stone) take the title. It is said that Tanya Wiley (also known as Sweet T) recorded her song even before Rappers Delight, but again we may never really know. We do know that the Sequence recorded the second single for Sugar hill records (the first being Sugar hill Gangs Rappers Delight), and they are the first recorded Emcees from the South waaay before it was called dirty!! It is my honor to tell the story of The Sequence !!

 

JayQuan: How did the Sequence get together, and how did you get discovered?

 

Blondy: In high school we all hung together. Cheryl and Angie played a lot of sports. I ran track, but they played basketball and everything. We all were cheerleaders. We decided to form a group, and it was originally Angie, Cheryl and a girl named Beverly. We all hung together, and Beverly could never make rehearsal, so they asked me to take her place.

 

Rappers Delight had just come out, and it was October 20th which is my birthday.  The Sugar hill Gang was coming to Colombia South Carolina, where we are from. They were playing at the Township auditorium, and we knew we had to get there to show them that we could sing and rap as well as they could. We were pretty popular from playing at the local roller skating rink. That evening there were supposed to be some tickets left for us at will call, but they werenít there. We were waiting around; trying to get in and this light skinned guy started flirting with Angie saying that he liked dark skinned girls. Angie said she didnít have a ticket to get in, and he offered to get her in. She said only if you can get my girls in too.

 

He got us all in, and we were telling him how we could rap & sing better than the Gang. He got us back stage and there was this lady back there who told us to do our thing. We werenít shy at all as far as performing so we had no problem. We started singing and she said thatís nice. We did another song called Get It Together, and she said thatís nice again. Angie said we forgot to do Funk You Up, so the lady said come on back and do Funk You Up. We did Funk You Up and she said thatís it im gonna make you girls stars! So of course that was Sylvia Robinson.

 

Later that night she had Doug Wimbish and Skip Mc Donald put a bass line to it right in the dressing room as we sang it.  I was working as a manager at this gas station / store called Super Saver. I got a call from someone who asked for Blondie. It was Sylvia. See unlike the Gang Sylvia didnít create us. We made the name Sequence, and I was Blondy since 9th grade, and Angie and Cheryl had their names as well. Anyway she asked were we ready to cut the record, and I said yes!! So she told us to fly up that week end. We flew up and cut Funk You Up, and it went gold in 3 weeks!! Cheryl made up that hook for Funk You Up.

 

JQ: Ok let me back up. I know you had the singing hook for Funk You Up already done. But you had rhymes to it as well before you even auditioned back stage that night?

 

BL: Yes, thatís why we were able to do it in one take. We had done it at talent shows, pageants etc.

 

JQ: Ok so you guys were from the south just like me, wasnít the first rap record that you heard Rappers Delight?

 

BL: No, we had heard King Tim the 3rd by Fatback. We said thatís easy, and when we heard Rappers Delight we said we can do that. We were already writing songs, songs were easy. After we heard those two songs we developed characters for our selves. My mother always wore her hair blonde, and I copied her from an early age. Blondie is the opposite of how I really am; itís just a character that I turn into when I get on stage. I talked a lot of noise, and was the frisky one; Cheryl was the sexy one with the soft voice, and the bedroom eyes. Angie was the fearless funky one.

 

JQ: Were you still in high school when you got discovered?

 

BL: Me & Cheryl had graduated. Angie was a senior in high school. She is the baby of the group. She stopped school to sign with Sugar hill.

 

JQ: Did you grow up together, or just meet in junior or high school.

 

BL: We grew up together in Saxon homes, the projects. Me & Angie sung together in church since our pre teen days. We had a dance group called the robotrons.

 

JQ: Itís interesting that you say that you are totally different from the Blondie character. I remember you saying that you get more sex than a catch chase mice. You did come off like the frisky one.

 

BL: I am shy and stand offish, and im even embarrassed to say some of that stuff on stage today.

JQ: How did your parents feel about you signing recording contracts?

 

BL: My mother didnít even see me off at the airport. My mother was very strict and didnít like it at all. I was the oldest, but I didnít learn many things until we went to Jersey and started recording. Mr. & Mrs. Robinson told us that they would be like our surrogate parents , and what to look out for as far as people trying to give us drugs , and guys approaching us. It was an overnight thing for us, we didnít know anything.

 

JQ: So you all made the second recording on the Sugar hill label right?

 

BL: Yeah they used to call us the Sugar hill girls, and they called the gang the Sugar hill guys.

 

JQ: Does the name Sequence have any meaning or significance?

 

BL: Yes, everything about us runs in a Sequence.  Im 5ft 2 Angie is 5 3 and Cheryl is 5ft 4.  On Oct 20 I turned 20, On Nov 19 Cheryl turned 19 and on Dec 18 Angie turned 18. We are like A, B & C. Also we loved the sequin outfits.

 

JQ: Did you write your own rhymes or did you have ghostwriters?

 

BL: We wrote all of our own raps. Cheryl did a lot of writing for the Sugar hill Gang. She was always in the studio writing. Unless we redid something like Tear The Roof Off or Cold Sweat we wrote our own stuff.

 

 

JQ: Even the r&b songs.

 

BL: Oh yes, everything. We wrote for one another, but that was it.

 

JQ: I always noticed that when Sylvia would put out a full length lp on a group like The Treacherous 3 , Crash Crew or even the Sugar hill Gang it was mostly older 12Ē records compiled almost like a greatest hits record. The most exciting thing about many of those lps was getting to see what the rappers looked like for the first time. But the Sequence had 3 full length lps with new material. Thatís even more than the Furious 5 & Sugar hill Gang. The Furious had the Message lp , and then the one after they split. Sugar hill Gang had their debut, 8th Wonder and Liviní In The Fast Lane, but the 8th Wonder lp was 60% or more old material.

 

BL: Thatís right. We were just passionate about singing and writing. We did a lot of singles too. Many of our songs were already written before we even went to Jersey.

 

JQ: How were those tours, and were you treated differently being an all female group from the south?

 

BL: It was fun. They looked out for us like sisters. It took awhile though. They called us country bumpkins whenever they saw us. They gave us a hard time because we didnít know a lot of stuff being from the south, and having strict parents. I remember Sylvia saying ďI wish you girls could have gotten here last week and joined the gang in EuropeĒ. Angie said "can we catch the bus over there and meet them"? Sylvia said ďoh baby the bus donít go to EuropeĒ.

 

When we went to Canada, I asked the waiter at a restaurant for grits. When Joe Robinson heard about it he said I know you werenít over in Canada asking for grits. None of us had ever flown, and we were at the airport shopping. Our flight left at 4, and at quarter to 4 we started looking for where we needed to board. We didnít know we had to walk so far to the gate, and of course we missed our flight. We were scared to tell Joe Robinson we missed the plane, so we told him that I got sick and fainted at the air port. He said I never heard of a black woman fainting, you were shopping and missed your flight. It took us awhile to get with the pace and how things moved up north.

 

JQ: I was talking to Keith Le Blanc and Ed Fletcher (Duke Bootee) about that big shoot out on the Sugar Hill tour at the Armory. They say that the fighting started as soon as yíall went into a slow jam.

 

BL: No! We were singiní Funky Sound (Tear The Roof Off). As soon as we got to the part that says ďwhat ya want us to do with the funk sing fire it upĒ thatís when it happened.  It was the scariest thing because there were so many people and it was so crowded and you didnít know where to run. People were tryingí to get in our dressing room and we wouldnít open the door.  From what I heard someone in the crowd got into an argument, and someone pushed someone, and it went from there. Thatís one reason I donít go to concerts. Unless I have a backstage pass or im performing I donít go.

 

JQ:  A lot of the original Bronx Emcees donít like the Sugar hill Gang, and feel like they were put together and more of a novelty act. Did you ever get any of that, being that your label mates were many times original Bronx Emcees?

 

BL: In the beginning they teased us about not knowing much, and being from the South. They teased our southern accent, but thatís what Sylvia liked about us. Even after we had been with the company for awhile she would send us back home because she said we were losing our southern accents. But they accepted us after awhile, and they protected us because in the beginning the only females on the label were us and Sha Rock of the Funky 4.

 

JQ: Wonder Mike told me that he got tired of hearing rap after awhile because every night all you heard was say ho , and all those things over and over. He said that he started going to malls and hanging out until it was show time.

 

BL: Well he probably said that because we used to burn them out so bad that they couldnít go on stage! After we left the stage we made it so hot for the Gang. Even recently we did a show with some of the Furious 5, Dana Dane and some more acts. Mel said that we used to ho the crowd to death!! He said that we asked the crowd to say ho so much that no one could use the word after we performed.

 

But I read some where, I think it was Jet magazine that Cowboy was the first one to say throw your hands in the air and wave Ďem like you just donít care. I would like to correct that. I came up with that. If you listen to Funk You Up, I even said it on that.  ďWave ya hands in the air like you just donít care, like Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, my main man Yogi Bear. That was recorded in 1979. We met Sylvia in October of í79, and we recorded that song in November. Flash & them werenít even out yet, and we hadnít heard of them, or the Crash Crew, Funky 4 or any of Ďem. The song was written when we were still down south.

 

JQ: You are really the first recorded rap group from the south.

 

BL: Yes!! When they do all these Hip Hop honors and things they never mention us as the first female rappers. Yo Yo was on the show with us that I mentioned earlier, and she thanked us for opening the door for female rappers. We really did open the door for the Queen Latifahís and Salt N Pepas and we get no recognition. They just sweep us under the rug. Some people say that we arenít recognized because they really started paying attention to rap when it started to go platinum. That may be true, but for a record to go gold in 3 weeks in 1979 when itís a new music thatís to be honored too.

 

 But I think that they never expected 3 girls from the south to be the first. Chuck D was promoting his group Crew Grrl Order in Atlanta, and he didnít know that I was there. They were saying that the first females in rap were Salt N Pepa. One of the girls that I was with said no he needs to correct that. So she told Chuck, and he apologized and brought me on stage. I said people are just so used to saying that Salt N Pepa were first that itís just automatic. I have learned to just accept it; I know what we did & who we are. But Cheryl gets real upset over it.

 

JQ: You had the privilege of being very close to 2 of my favorite early rap groups (Sugar Hill Gang and Furious 5). What are the differences in these 2 groups from your perspective?

 

BL: Well Flash & the Furious 5 were more like street boys. Sugar Hill Gang was like gentlemen. On tours Sylvia had to put them in separate hotels because the Furious 5 would tear up everything!! They are just different breeds. Hank is the craziest one out of the Gang, but is still is a gentleman. Wonder Mike & Gee will always hold the door for you, and be very polite, I still love both groups, they were like my brothers, but thatís just what it is.

 

JQ: How much creative control did you have over your material?

 

BL: Sylvia let us do what we wanted. She might suggest that we say something a certain way or whatever, but that was it. She never wrote anything, even though she gets writers credit. Even for Funk You Up. One thing that I love about her is that she can call a hit. She has a great ear for a hit. She was always like a mother to us. We love her as a person, but the business is something different.

 

JQ: Do you feel like you were properly compensated for your recordings?

 

BL: We thought so back then. But when someone gives you a check for 10,000 dollars and youíre still in your teens you think its ok.

 

JQ: So you may have gotten 10,000, but could have been owed 50,000 or more.

 

BL: Right. When we were having problems paying our rent we knew that something just wasnít right. And we had been hearing different things from our label mates, as far as money was concerned. We said that we werenít doing anything else on the label, and thatís when we started going our separate ways.

 

JQ: That must have been about í85 because I have a record by yíall called Funk It Up í85.

 

BL: Yes it was about that time. That was the last record we did with them. Angie was doing a lot of back up, Cheryl went back home with her family, and I moved back to Texas.

 

JQ: Cheryl did a lot of writing for that label right?

 

BL: Yes and a lot of people donít know that we were also the West Street Mob. She never wrote for the Funky 4 or Furious 5, Crash Crew or any of them. Mostly the Gang and West Street Mob. Also other artists that may have made a song or 2 on the label.

 

JQ: On Dance Make Your Body Move by West Street Mob is that you all doing the female vocals?

 

BL: Yes. Thatís Cheryl and Angie on that.

 

JQ: Whose idea was it to do Rappers Reprise with the Sugar Hill Gang, and were you in the studio at the same time?

 

BL: I think that it was Sylviaís idea. We were all together in the studio, and everyone wrote their own parts.

 

JQ: Wonder Mike told me that they absolutely hated that song, and it got to a point that refused to perform it.

 

BL: I didnít care for it either. It was just silly. But Sylvia wanted us to do it, and we did what she told us, she was momma Sylvia.

 

JQ: What do you think your biggest selling record was according to Sugar Hills documents?

 

BL: They would probably say Funk You Up.

 

JQ: Funky Sound probably did well too.

 

BL: Yeah as well as Cold Sweat. Much of our money came from overseas, and Cold Sweat was big over seas. I was touring with Angie a few years back, because I was her road manager for a few years, and people over seas still had Sequence records for us to sign.

 

JQ: Did you like Monster Jam with Spoonie Gee?

 

BL: I love that record. It probably sold well too, but we would never know.

 

JQ: When people sample your stuff are you getting paid?

 

BL: No. When I was Angieís road manager I dealt with different sampling stuff. I just found out it 2002 about mechanical royalties. We werenít getting paid any of it. I was managing the Sugar hill offices with Joe Robinson back in the 90s and found out a lot of stuff.

 

JQ: How was it touring with groups like Parliament and Cameo?

 

BL: We loved those shows. One of our best was opening for the Ojays and the Jones Girls.

 

JQ: Did they seem to respect what you were doing?

 

BL: Oh yes. We used to hang out and talk in each others dressing rooms. We did something with Chaka Khan, and she acted a lil funky until Angie told her about her self.

 

JQ: How do you and Angie Stone get along today? Are you on speaking terms?

 

BL: I havenít talked to her since I resigned in 2003. I just felt like I wasnít growing. You know how you can see someone else growing, but you are in the same place? I was doing some writing with her, but it never went any where. We were trying to start a management company as well, but I wanted to move back home, and she wanted to stay up north.

 

JQ: What are you up to these days?

 

BL: I have a management company called All Girls Entertainment. I am managing a group called All Girls with ages ranging from 23 to 25 years of age. I am trying to get one of their songs on a sound track as we speak. I am also a shareholder in a new magazine called Silk. Itís an upscale menís magazine thatís in 7 or so states. Me & Cheryl just did a song called going to the movies. We are still called Sequence, and we are rapping and singing on it. Itís on Black Bottom records which is Cherylís label.

 

JQ: Thanks for your time Blondy , its been an honor.

 

© 2007 JayQuan Dot Com. As told to JayQuan Summer 2007. No part may be reproduced in part or in whole without authors consent.