This hit would never have happened if not for Roxanne going to do her laundry. At the laundromat, she ran into Marley Marl, who asked Shante to come up to his apartment to freestyle over U.T.F.O.’s “Roxanne, Roxanne.” He recorded the freestyle as Roxanne showed off her skills, and the single take turned into an immediate radio hit.
A music video came not long after, and the record-scratching hip-hop got plenty of play on radio and music television stations. Shante and U.T.F.O. got into a feud over the new track. Shante woke up and realized she was a star, all because she had gone to do the laundry.
“I'm Only Out for One Thang” – Ice Cube
Ice Cube told a funny story in an article commemorating the twentieth anniversary of “AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted,” the album where “I'm Only Out for One Thang” originally appeared.
Famous clock-wearer Flava Flav was featured on the track, but he was running late getting to the studio. Ice Cube got the track ready to record, and as soon as Mr. Flav appeared, they did the recording, knowing they only had one shot before their time in the studio was up. They messed up at the end but just kept rolling. Whether or not they wanted another crack at it, they had no choice.
“I'm Your Baby Tonight” – Whitney Houston
When Houston showed up at the studio to record “I'm Your Baby Tonight,” it wasn't fully written – but Houston had places to be. Specifically, the mall. Houston wanted to do some shopping before it closed, and she had an hour to record.
Her perfect performance meant she had plenty of time to try on clothes. Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds was writing the song and hadn't finished the bridge, but all of the lyrics had been completed, so Houston jumped in and did her part, creating a huge hit in the process.
“Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)” – JAY-Z
When it came out in 1998, “Hard Knock Life” was the most successful of JAY-Z's singles. JAY-Z originally heard the beat from 45 King, who was holding it for Kid Capri, but JAY-Z managed to coax the track away from the producer.
According to 45 King, JAY-Z was so excited about it it only took him one take – and less than five minutes – to create the track. He didn't have lyric papers in front of him; he just did it. As 45 King said during an interview, that's just JAY-Z.
“Teenage Lament '74” – Alice Cooper
Recorded in 1973, “Teenage Lament '74” is about the hassle and sometimes horror of being a teenager. Even if it was written in the seventies – and times have changed quite a lot since then – there are plenty of people out there who understand the meaning and enjoy the song.
As the story goes, the band was recording for the album “Muscle of Love,” and when it came time to record this song, they all just clicked, laying the entire thing down in one try. The song reached number twelve on the UK singles chart in 1973 and charted in a number of other countries as well.