Throwback: Shawn Brown-Rappin Duke


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Shawn Brown’s 1984 hit “Rappin Duke” was a hip-hop parody of movie star John Wayne. The novelty tune used rap music to spoof the Western film icon and also referenced other pop culture moments including “The Beverly Hillbillies,” Chaka Khan and then-president Ronald Reagan. The song’s “duh ha duh ha” refrain was funny and infectious over a slow-moving funk beat and it became popular enough to put Brown on tour with New Edition and Stevie Wonder. “Rappin Duke” was a rare moment of accepted comedic intent in rap when the genre was still proving itself to the world. Biggie Smalls reintroduced Brown by mentioning “Rappin Duke” in his song, “Juicy.” Brown never recorded again and later worked as a stand-up comedian, radio show morning host and as a keynote speaker at early childhood conferences because of his Super Fun Show educational program.