The Power by Snap! was the first rap-based single to hit number one in the UK, as well as being a hit in the United States. A lot of people got screwed over on the way to it achieving that honor.
First off, despite what many people undoubtedly thought when they first saw this video, neither rapper Turbo B nor singer Penny Ford were members of Snap! Instead, Snap! was the project of two German producers, Michael Münzing and Luca Anzilotti. Following the lead of the KLF, Snap! created songs by sampling other dance tracks and then hiring a singer to perform. In the case of The Power, they sampled rapper Chill Rob G’s Let The Words Flow while the famous “I’ve Got The Power” line comes from Jocelyn Brown’s Love’s Gonna Get You.
After first trying to hire Chaka Khan to perform on the track, The Snap! settled for Penny Ford, who was Chaka’s main backup singer. Ford flew out to the Germany and spent a few weeks recording her part of the song. She also improvised a few lyrics in order to get a songwriter credit and to ensure that she would get paid for her contribution.
Not getting paid for their contributions were both Chill Rob G and Jocelyn Brown. Brown wasn’t paid because, even though her vocal track was a key to the song’s success, she didn’t actually write the lyrics to Love’s Gonna Get You. Chill Rob G wasn’t paid because, unlike Snap!, he didn’t have a huge record company to back him up.
When the song became a hit in Europe, Chill Rob G recorded his own version for release in the United States. However, Snap! also recorded a version of the States but, instead of using Chill Rob G, they recruited a rapped named Turbo B. Turbo B performed not only Chill Rob G’s original rap but he also added “I will attack and you don’t want that.” Again, because Chill Rob G recorded an independent label while Snap! had Artisan backing them up, Snap’s version received considerably more promotion than Chill Rob G’s. For example, Snap! got a music video to help push their version up the charts.
Turbo B appears in the video. Penny Ford does not. Instead, a woman named Jackie Hayes was hired to lip-sync to Ford’s vocals. The video went into heavy rotation on MTV and the song became a huge hit, despite the fact that most listeners had no idea who was actually responsible for what they were hearing. Though Snap! didn’t have many hits beyond this song, The Power is still regularly heard whenever a film or a television show has to establish that it’s taking place in the 90s.