Skip to main content

George Michael could've had a rap career – revisiting 'Wham Rap'

Did you know George Michael's first single ever was a rap song?
  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

Music fans around the world over were saddened by the news of pop icon George Michael's death. As we go back through his mountain of massive singles from the '80s and '90s, there's an early track that will surprise a lot of people.

George Michael's first single ever was a rap song.

Most remember Michael's original group Wham! for seasonal classics like "Last Christmas" or thought-provoking ballads like "Everything She Wants." But he and bandmate Andrew Ridgeley began their career by stepping to the mic in '82 for "Wham! Rap (Enjoy What You Do)." Hip-hop was still emerging in America at the time, and it was even more underground and counterculture in the U.K.

Dropping the same year as Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel's "The Message" and one year after Blondie's "Rapture," "Wham! Rap" is like the midway point between the two.

Michael adopts the rap cadence which, aside from sounding cool by '82 standards, emphasizes the street/avant garde nature of his perspective and style. For where rap was -- remember, we're still two years before Run-DMC emerged -- Michael is surprisingly competent. So much so, the single wound up being re-released several times over the course of Michael's career as his star continued rising.

While he never got around to spitting more rhymes, "Wham! Rap" also reflects the then-revolutionary independent position to spend your life putting your own happiness toward was you want to do. Cutting edge for its time, it's a mantra that Michael never shook off over the course of his career.

From the explicitly pro-monogamy of "I Want Your Sex" to the self-awareness of "Freedom '90" to responding to a scandal in song-form by doubling down with "Outside," Michael enjoyed what he did. Besides, you can't spell George Michael without MC.

Next Up

Willmar Police Department

Police: Suspect arrested in Willmar after firing gun at officer

The incident led to a manhunt that lasted into early Sunday morning.

Monti Ossenfort

Vikings lead off general manager interviews with Monti Ossenfort

Several candidates will interview for the job this week.

Payton Willis

Gophers' rally comes up short, lose to Iowa

The Gophers came back from a 23-point deficit but couldn't complete the comeback.

pixabay-fire-truck-side-close

Firefighters respond to smoke-filled cabin to find man asleep inside

A wood stove was determined to be the cause of the smoke.

snow plow msp airport

MSP snowplow drivers reach contract agreement after threatening strike

Teamsters Local 320 reached an agreement with the Metropolitan Airports Commission Saturday.

Kellen Moore

What you should know about the Vikings' head coach candidates

Seven candidates were revealed on Saturday morning.

20211010_Vikings_Lions_REG05_1119 (2)

What is the next Minnesota Vikings GM inheriting?

A look at the strengths and weaknesses of the Vikings' roster and situation

ambulance

Man dies after being 'punched in the head' during altercation in Duluth

A 46-year-old man is in custody and facing 1st-degree manslaughter charges.

Deion Sanders

Deion Sanders says Zimmer, Spielman hadn't spoken 'in months'

Sanders' comments revealed some of the Vikings' issues last season.

police tape, crime scene

Brooklyn Park man pleads guilty in 2020 fatal drive-by shooting

Devon Manley will be sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 30 years.

Related

Revisiting Rihanna's acting career, pre-Bates Motel

Let's revisit all the times that the magic of RiRi has exploded across the silver screen.

5 must-hear Christmas rap projects for 2016

Chance the Rapper and Jeremih just surprised us with holiday cheer, as did some other MCs.

Watch: Lil Yachty raps about 59 Simpsons characters

Lil Yachty's raps are more fun than a B.Y.O.B.B.

One of the first rap-rock tracks ever turns 30

One of the first rap-metal tracks holds up three decades later as an early ode to hip-hop

Space Jam's Bugs Bunny rap song was written by...Jay-Z?!

With "Space Jam" and its soundtrack turning 20 this week, we think it's time to focus on who penned rhymes for Bugs Bunny: none other than Jay-Z.

Listen: Barack Obama raps Kendrick Lamar's 'Alright'

Thanks to Barackdubs, we have our 44th president rapping Kendrick's modern classic.

Lil Yachty gets two(!) flavors of Rap Snacks

Finally, a snack for Lil Yachty fans.

Revisiting Brother Ali's 'Mr. President (You're the Man)' one last time

Brother Ali released a special song the morning after Obama's inauguration, let's revisit it while it's still accurate.