648. ‘Turtle Power’, by Partners in Kryme

Cowabunga! God, I used to love the Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles. (Not, note, the Ninja Turtles, as the word ‘ninja’ apparently had too many violent connotations for UK audiences). Strangely, though, I was completely unaware of this song. Maybe because it was from the soundtrack to the Turtle’s first live-action movie, which I’ve never seen, rather than the far superior animated TV series.

Turtle Power, by Partners in Kryme (their 1st and only #1)

4 weeks, from 22nd July – 19th August 1990

Still, I was expecting this to be a remake of the classic theme tune (Heroes in a half-shell, Turtle Power!) I was also fully expecting it to be terrible. But… It’s neither of those things. It’s an actually quite funky rap track, with a new jack swing beat and creepy organs. It sounds a little, bear with me, like Dr Dre covering ‘The Monster Mash’.

The verses tell the story of the Turtles, and how they came to be. Splinter’s the teacher, Shredder the bad guy, while April O’Neil’s the reporter. (Partners in Kryme were clearly given a remit to mention every character at least once.) It also has to set up the movie: The crime wave is high with mugging mysterious, All police and detectives are furious, ‘Cause they can’t find the source, Of this lethally evil force… Plus one stanza is given over to ‘believe in yourself kids’ motivation: So when you’re in trouble don’t give in and turn sour, Try to rely on your, Turtle Power…

According to some sources, this is the very first hip-hop track to make #1 in the UK. I’m not sure that New Edition would agree with that, or Snap!, or Soul II Soul, or John Barnes. But I get the point: those acts had elements of it in their hit singles; this is pure hip-hop. Which means that when rap properly debuts atop the British charts, it arrives spitting rhymes like: Pizza’s the food that’s sure to please, These ninjas are into pepperoni and cheese…

I genuinely expected to hate this. But I don’t. The kid in me enjoys the heavily vocodered chorus: T-U-R-T-L-E power…, and then there’s also the nostalgia factor of it being from one of my favourite childhood cartoons. Lyrics aside, I think this might genuinely hold up, in a way that not all early rap does. Partners in Kryme were a duo from New York, made up of DJ Keymaster Snow and MC Golden Voice. I’m not sure if they were formed for this record; but they had no other hits, before or after, making them a classic one-hit wonder. (The ‘Kryme’ in their name stands for Keep Rhythm Your Motivating Element. Which is catchy.)

Whether or not this really was the first hip-hop chart-topper, 1990 was certainly the year it went mainstream. Snap!, John Barnes’ rap, as already mentioned, plus this, and a skinny, Queen-sampling white guy coming up very soon. It’s certainly going mainstream, but it’s still largely seen as a novelty. We’ll have to wait a while for a ‘serious’ rap #1, but when the time does come there’ll be no looking back for hip-hop as chart-topping force.


4 thoughts on “648. ‘Turtle Power’, by Partners in Kryme

  1. I was aware of the Ninja Turtles being huge kiddie faves, and as novelty cash ins go this isnt the worst by any means – but I would never choose to hear it as such. Possibly due to me being 32 at the time….oops!

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