*Some people of a certain age hear the 1979 instrumental “Rise” by Herb Alpert and think back no further than the 1997 image of Notorious B.I.G. and Puffy on a yacht. But there’s an entire generation of fans who, to this day, hear the song’s baseline strut and are instantly taken back to a critical scene on the soap opera “General Hospital.”
A rape scene.
On October 20, 1979, “Rise” went to No. 1 in the U.S. after it was used in a scene featuring Luke Spencer and Laura Webber, “General Hospital’s” “Luke & Laura” lovebirds whose immense popularity would explode beyond their own soap – and daytime dramas in general – to become a cultural flashpoint.
But the iconic characters, played by Genie Francis and Anthony Geary, weren’t even a couple when Geary reportedly suggested “Rise” to the show’s music director for his pivotal scene with Francis.
In fact, Laura was still with Scottie Baldwin when Luke – after Laura rebuffed his declaration of love – threw on the DJ’s record player and raped Laura on the floor of the campus disco, as “Rise” played in the background.
“General Hospital” ran this song several times a week for a short period after this scene, until writers transformed Luke and Laura into romantic lovers and made his redemption a part of their storyline.
“Rise,” written by Andy Armer and Herb’s nephew Randy “Badazz” Alpert, reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 exactly three months after its July 20, 1979 release from the album of the same name. It remained at the top for two weeks, and gave Alpert the distinction of becoming the first and only artist to score Hot 100 chart toppers with both an instrumental performance and a vocal performance (1968’s “This Guy’s in Love With You,” written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David).
“Rise” was also a fixture on Black radio in 1979, having peaked at number four on the R&B chart and number seventeen on the disco chart.
Sean “Puffy” Combs came along 18 years later and gave “Rise” new life by choosing its bass line for Biggie’s track “Hypnotize.” Released on March 1, 1997, one week before the rapper’s death in a drive by shooting, Puff’s production laced with B.I.G.’s indelible lyrics took “Rise” back to the Hot 100 summit. The original spent the entire summer of ’79 climbing the charts until that episode of “General Hospital” shoved it into the No. 1 spot on Oct. 20. Biggie’s version debuted at No. 2 and reached the pinnacle a week later.
Randy Alpert told the website songfacts.com, “I asked Puffy, in 1996 when he first called me concerning using ‘Rise’ for ‘Hypnotize,’ why he chose the ‘Rise’ groove. He told me that in the summer of 1979 when he was I think 10 years old the song was a huge hit everywhere in New York and ‘Rise’ along with Chic’s ‘Good Times’ were ‘The Songs’ that all the kids were dancing and roller skating to that summer. He had always remembered that summer and that song. When he first played the loop for Biggie, Biggie smiled and hugged him.”
Randy Alpert continued: “Over the years I was approached by Ice Cube, Easy E, Vanilla Ice, and maybe another 4-5 artists to use the song and I never said yes until I heard a rough version of Biggie’s recording. I was sent a cassette from Puffy and when I cranked it up I not only immediately loved it but my gut thought that this could be a #1 record once again.”
While “Hypnotize” wasn’t the only record to sample “Rise,” it was by far the most successful.
Monica used the groove on “I’m Back” from her 2002 album “All Eyez on Me.”
And Bell Biv DeVoe sampled the groove in their 2016 single “Run,” the trio’s first track in 14 years.