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Sugarhill Gang Biography

Sugarhill Gang Biography

Though the Sugarhill Gang inaugurated the history of recorded hip-hop with their single "Rapper's Delight," a multi-platinum seller and radio hit in 1979, the group was cooked up to cash in on a supposed novelty item. Music-industry producer and label-owner Sylvia Robinson had become aware of the massive hip-hop block parties occurring around the New York area during the late '70s, so she gathered three local rappers (Master Gee, Wonder Mike, and Big Bank Hank) to record a single. Infectious and catchy, "Rapper's Delight" borrowed the break from Chic's "Good Times" and became a worldwide hit, eventually selling more than eight million copies. Most industry people figured rap for a short-lived trend, and though they were dead wrong, the Sugarhill Gang certainly didn't carry the torch; despite several modest hits ("8th Wonder," "Apache") the trio faded quickly and was gone by the mid-'80s, only returning in 1999 with Jump on It, a rap album for children.

The Sugar hill Gang is an American hip hop and funk group, known mostly for their biggest hit, "Rapper's Delight", the first hip hop single to become a Top 40 hit. The track uses the bass line from "Good Times" by Chic as its foundation. The members, all from Englewood, New Jersey, called themselves Wonder Mike, Big Bank Hank, and Master Gee. They were assembled into a group by producer Sylvia Robinson who also founded Sugar Hill Records along with her husband, record mogul Joe Robinson.

This pioneering group inaugurated the history of recorded hip-hop with their single "Rapper's Delight", a multi-platinum seller and radio hit in 1979. The group was created to profit on a supposed novelty item. New Jersey-based producer and indie label owner Sylvia Robinson had become aware of the massive hip-hop block parties occurring around the New York City area during the late '70s, so she gathered three locals from her town of Englewood, New Jersey: Guy O'Brien, who was the original Master Gee; another local rapper, Michael Wright, who called himself Wonder Mic, and non-rapper Big Bank Hank. The vocalists were then teamed up with three session musicians, including future Living Colour bassist Doug Wimbish. Together, they recorded all of the Sugarhill Gang’s work. "Rapper's Delight" was a #36 hit on the US pop chart and a #4 hit on the US R&B chart in 1979, though hip hop was dismissed as a fad. Some claim that "Rapper's Delight" is the first hip hop single ever, but it was actually preceded by "King Tim" by the Fatback Band. The Sugarhill Gang's place in music history seems secure as the first hip hop group to have a gold single. "Rapper's Delight" borrowed the main bassline from Chic's "Good Times" and became a worldwide hit, reportedly selling more than eight million copies. For some time, the trio developed a poor reputation within certain social circles: The fact that they were essentially amateurs assembled by Sugar Hill Records upset many hip-hop pioneers who had been paying dues in the street party circuit. Chic’s Nile Rodgers filed a lawsuit for copyright infringement over “Rapper's Delight” (the first of many such legal battles for rap); it was settled out of court, leaving Rodgers with a large cut of all future royalties. Despite the embarrassment, the group endured. The Sugarhill Gang never again topped the charts, though they had a few minor hits, such as "Apache", "Eighth Wonder" (which was performed on the American music show Soul Train in 1981), "Rapper's Reprise [Jam Jam]", and "Showdown" (with the Furious Five). In 1999, they reunited and recorded Jump on It, a hip hop children's album. They continue to tour.


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