On March 25, 1979, a funk band known as The Fatback Band released the first commercially successful hip-hop song, “King Tim III (Personality Jock).”
Fatback were a funk and disco band but they were trying something different with this record so they hired radio DJ Tim Washington, aka King Tim III, to rap at their live shows. After all of the positive reactions from audiences, Fatback decided to combine one of King Tim’s raps over a track called “Catch the Beat,” and retitle it “King Tim III.”
This song was originally released on the B-Side of the 7-inch single but after the huge responses it received in the clubs it was re-released on the A-side and became a Top 40 hit. The song was on their 1979 album XII and peaked at No. 26 on the R&B chart and stayed on for 11 weeks.
Contrary to popular belief, The Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” (released on September 16, 1979) was not the first commercially successful hip-hop single. It wasn’t released until the fall of 1979 only months after “Kim Tim III (Personality Jock)” was released. however it can be said that Sugarhill Gang was the first rap group to have a commercial release.
“King Tim III” is also notable for being the first hip-hop single to chart.