How A Heckler Became The Mother Of Hip Hop

Millie Jackson
Leslie Taylor-Grover
August 26, 2021

Millie Jackson wasn’t even trying to become a singer, let alone one that would birth an entire movement in music. She was just trying to enjoy herself at a nightclub. But she couldn’t – because something was ruining everything for her.

The singer on stage was awful! When her friends dared her to jump on stage and sing, that’s exactly what she did. 

She brought the house down and was hired on the spot! However, her budding career faced a huge challenge.

She sounded too much like Gladys Knight! Jackson had to differentiate herself somehow – so she decided to be herself. Not only did she start to include profanity in her lyrics, but she did something else so outlandish we still celebrate it today!

She started telling stories of sex, violence, and bad relationships in her music. Jackson was a rapper before there was rap! Her style of dancing, dressing, and rapping was controversial – but birthed an entire hip-hop movement. 

No one ever confused Jackson with Knight again – the two songstresses were now DEFINITELY in their own lanes.

Jackson’s innovative artistry inspired the genre of hip hop and brought a realness to music it sorely needed. Generations of musicians continue to follow in her footsteps. Just doing us is enough – our authentic selves are worth celebrating!

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