Before Salt-N- Pepa, before MC Lyte, and before Roxanne Shante, there was The Sequence. Cheryl “The Pearl” Cook, Gwendolyn “Blondy” Chisolm, and Angela “Angie B” Brown (later to become Angie Stone) formed The Sequence, the first female rap group to sign to a major label and go gold. Their biggest hit “Funk You Up” (1979), had a huge impact on Hip Hop culture, influencing a generation of female MC’s, and many others like Dr. Dre, who sampled their voice for the hook of “Keep Their Heads Ringin’”.
The three were childhood friends who grew up together, singing in the church choir and cheering together in high school. The group auditioned for Sylvia Robinson after managing to get backstage at a Sugarhill Gang concert in their hometown of Columbia, South Carolina.
In 2016, The Sequence was invited to the VH1 Hip-Hop Honors: All Hail the Queens presentation, but received no special recognition during the program except for a shout-out from Salt (of Salt-N-Pepa) during her acceptance speech. Watch the video below to hear Cheryl The-Pearl speak about their experience at the VH1 Hip-Hop Honors, The Sequence’s impact on Hip Hop culture, and a message from the pioneers of Hip Hop:
The group never came to an official end, but separated in 1985.
Angie B got married became the Angie Stone we know today for hits like No More Rain (In This Cloud), Wish I Didn’t Miss You and Brotha. Cheryl and Blondy released a single in 2011 entitled “On Our Way To The Movies”, which samples the 1975 Staples Singers “Let’s Do It Again”. The song is actually a bop, a real reflection of grown female rap.
The Sequence knocked down a lot of doors during the very beginnings of Hip Hop. In the video above Cheryl The-Pearl addresses the “but they only had one big record” sentiment by stating that, “you have to look at the derivatives of the record,” and lists names such as Erykah Badu, Busta Rhymes, Ice Cube, and more who took influence from that song.
In a time where there were literally only a couple rap records on wax, what The Sequence did was huge. First, to come from South Carolina, was huge because Hip Hop was still very much a New York thing. Then to get signed to a major label and create a record that spread female MC’ing past the Bronx was another feat, not to mention they sold 500,000 copies in three weeks. They traveled the world with the likes of Sugarhill Gang, Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five, The Treacherous Three, Busy Bee, and more pioneers.
Rolling Stone did a great writeup that goes more in detail on the background of the group, their audition for Sylvia Robinson, the creation of “Funk You Up”, and the rocky but rewarding experience of touring with Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. Check it out here.