On this day (Mar. 23) in 1953 the undisputed “Queen of Funk,” Chaka Khan, was born. With a voice that transcends genres, including R&B, pop, gospel, rock, and classical, Chaka Khan has won ten Grammys, released 22 albums and racked up ten #1 Billboard magazine charted songs, seven RIAA certified gold singles and ten RIAA certified gold and platinum albums. And without her, some of your favorite songs would not even exist.
Early on the songstress caught the attention of Stevie Wonder, who wrote her first breakout hit with Rufus, “Tell Me Something Good.” The song earned Chaka her first Grammy Award, and with Chaka emerging as the funk band’s star attraction, Rufus gained tremendous popularity, selling out shows and dominating the airwaves. With the group Chaka Khan racked up five RIAA certified gold and platinum album.
In 1978, she stepped out as a solo artist, releasing the smash hit “I’m Every Woman.” However, the song that truly propelled her to superstar status song was “I Feel For You.” Released in 1984, the song not only won her a Grammy, but it was also the first R&B song to feature a rap, which was performed by Grandmaster Melle Mel.
On top a successful music career that has spanned decades, Chaka Khan is also an actor, author, philanthropist, entrepreneur and activist, developing the Chaka Khan Foundation in 1999, which aims to “give children who are at risk, either through poverty or through health issues like autism, the ability to achieve their dreams and give back to the community.”
But aside from her countless collaborations, awards, and accolades, Chaka Khan has influenced generations of recording artists, including rappers. So in honor of her birthday, here are our favorite rap songs that sample the “Queen of Funk” herself.