On this date in 1980, The Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” became the first hip hop single ever to reach the Billboard top 40.
Prior to the success of “Rapper’s Delight”, hip hop was little known outside of New York City, and little known even within New York City by those whose orbits were limited to Midtown and Downtown Manhattan. The basic elements of hip hip—MCs rapping, DJs mixing and scratching, B-Boys breakdancing—were all in place by 1979, but you could not walk into a record store in Times Square and buy a hip hop album. Hip hop was something you had to experience live, in clubs and at parties in neighbourhoods like the South Bronx and Harlem.
It was a businesswoman and an owner of All Platinum Records from New Jersey, Sylvia Robinson, who put two trends together to give birth to an industry. After hearing a DJ rapping over records in a Harlem club, she set her son Joey to the task of finding someone who could do the same thing on tape. Joey recruited his friends “Big Bank Hank” Jackson, “Wonder Mike” Wright, and “Master Gee” O’Brien. This was on a Friday. Sylvia named the newly formed trio after the Sugar Hill section of Harlem, chose Chic’s “Good Times” as a backing track and scheduled studio time for the following Monday.
What happened on Monday was revolutionary: the making of a record that began, “I said a hip, hop, the hippie, the hippie …” and ended up changing the course of music history.”Rapper’s Delight” is number 251 on the Rolling Stone magazine’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and number 2 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs.
Featured image via The Guardian.
Text: History, Wikipedia.