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.