Song Of The Day 4/9/2015: Millie Jackson – “The Rap”

We Need to Talk: Millie Jackson was – I should say “is,” she’s still very much around and working, as far as I know – an unheralded trailblazer in a few ways. Live performance was really her main outlet; although she did straight, sometimes very hard R&B, she drew a lot of her approach from the storytelling tradition of cabaret. Jackson also had no time for the sanitized compromises of the mainstream. Relieved from that pressure, she took advantage of the freedom to be more direct with her fans about, well, you know, sex. That whole thing. (She’s also responsible for one of the most unfortunate album covers of all time. I won’t mention it or describe it. You should be able to find it pretty easily through your usual channels. God, I’m becoming such a prude in scatological matters.)

Millie scored some top 10 hits on the R&B charts in the ’70s and ’80s. “The Rap” got to #42 in 1974. It’s concerned with the thorny situation of carrying on an affair with a married man. But it also indicts the unknowing wives to a certain extent. And society at large. And laundromats. Nobody gets off scot-free. Really, the whole thing is kind of a mess, but Millie winds up sounding absolutely satisfied with the arrangement. Even defiant.

The studio version of “The Rap” is tough on its own, but I’m featuring a version from one of Jackson’s notoriously “live and uncensored” recordings, of which all of us should have at least one. It looks good on a discography.

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