May 09

The FT Top 100 Tracks Of All Time: 27: Chaka Khan – I Feel For You

FT4 comments • 836 views

Chaka, Chaka Khan, Chaka Khan, Chaka Khan
I love the cover of this single. Much experimentation with what was left of my childhood crayons convinced me it was a lot harder than it looked.
Chaka Khan let me rock you, let me rock you Chaka Khan
I knew about rap in the early nineties, I just hadn’t really heard much of it.
Let me rock you that’s all I want to do
I had heard The Message, I think it was on an early compilation tape I had, but it hadn’t really stuck in my brain.
Chaka Khan let me rock you, let me rock you Chaka Khan
I had liked White Lines, but for its incessant bassline more than its rapping. And to be fair much of the rapping in White Lines is half sung, and whilst impressive it is slow, allowing the “talking” insult to be thrown at it.
Let me rock you cos I feel for you.
I Feel For You is not really a rap song. Even though Melle Mel’s rap comes back twice, I only think of it as an intro. But it is a terrific post disco dance track, slathered with electro, flirting with allsorts – even a bit of Stevie Wonder’s harmonica before its ubiquity robbed it of any significance.
Chaka Khan let me tell you what I wanna do
And this is Chaka Khan’s record. I didn’t know anything about Chaka Khan before this groove was released, but despite its rap intro and its production, she still stomps all over it.
Do you feel for me, the way I feel for you?
But in the end it is the rap that I always think of when I think of this record. The first piece of rap that I memorised, sang and would repeat over and over.
Chaka Khan let me tell you what I wanna do
I can’t say it made me scurry to discover more rap, though I did look up Melle Mel in the ways that you could back then. IE wait for someone to play something on the radio.
I wanna love you, wanna hug you, wanna squeeze you too
But it did make me understand what people saw in rap. It was clever, it was heartfelt, it was tricky (before Its Tricky) and if you could do it, well it was the best tongue-twister in the world.
Let me take you in my arms let me fill you with my charms, Chaka
I tried to see if I could still do it, I put my crackly copy of the single on (OK it was my sisters but I nicked all her singles when she got rid of them). She used to be Chaka, I was Melle.
‘Cause you know that I’m the one to keep you warm, Chaka
And the first six or so lines I could do perfectly and then it slipped away. It isn’t really that hard, not compared to later more difficult raps that I semi-mastered (too much Emimem karaoke will do that to you).
I’ll make you more than just a physical dream
But then this is one of the best intros of all time. Which makes some of its descendants look even weaker – YES I AM LOOKING AT YOU JAY-Z ON UMBRELLA.
I wanna rock you, Chaka Baby, cause you make me wanna scream


  1. 1
    misschillydisco on 7 May 2009 #

    one of the greatest number ones ever, as far as i am concerned. i am sure that green from scritti politti once said that he almost sang backing vocals on this (but chickened out at the last minute). i may have dreamt the above anecdote. if anyone could substantiate it, i would be eternally grateful.

  2. 2
    Kat but logged out innit on 8 May 2009 #

    I bloody love this song. I think it’s the bassline.

  3. 3
    henry s on 8 May 2009 #

    Don’t know about that Green story, but he most certainly did NOT chicken out of doing backing vocals for Chaka’s “Love Of A Lifetime”, a year later. (Even appeared in the video, wearing a silly Green hat.)

  4. 4
    The Intl on 9 May 2009 #

    Great tune, but it got old very quickly. But the “Chaka Khan” part was brilliant, as were the beats. I coulda done without Stevie. Although in all fairness I say that now because I am way sick of his ass.

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