In 1987, LL Cool J’s album, Bigger and Deffer, kicked off with a rap battle anthem, “I’m BAD”. The song’s swagger and attitude reminded fans of his early hits like “Rock The Bells”. But living up to his moniker, Ladies Love Cool James, the second single from the album shocked the rap world when he slowed things down and got soft and sensitive. “I Need Love” became the first rap ballad to become a major hit song. After going to #1 on the Hip Hop charts, the song crossed over onto the pop charts and was later ranked at #60 on VH1’s list of the greatest hip hop songs of all-time. But “I Need Love” was NOT the first rap love song.
“I NEED LOVE” LL COOL J
If you go back to the earliest days of rap, we’re talking Grandmaster Flash and Kurtis Blow, there was a love song that pre-dated LL Cool J’s smash hit. The Sugarhill Gang were best known for their party anthems including “Apache”, “Rapper’s Delight”, and “8th Wonder” but the band changed their direction by their third album. The Sugarhill Gang recorded “The Lover In You” (no relation to Shalamar’s song) in 1982. The smooth R&B flavored hip hop track snuck onto the Billboard charts in the U.S. and the U.K. This became the seminal rap group’s final hit but it does earn the label as the first rap love song.
“THE LOVER IN YOU” Sugarhill Gang