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Sugarhill Gang / Sugar Hill Gang

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Wonder Mike, Big Bank Hank, and Master Gee. While rap music had existed long before these guys or even their parents, their song Rappers Delight was the first ever rap song to hit the top 40 charts. This began the evolution of rap music into a powerful musical genre today with commercial power and world-wide appeal. Early in 1979, former R&B singer Sylvia Robinson formed the SugarHill Record Label. In September of that year, Rappers Delight was released, using "Good Times" by Chic as the baseline. On August 18, 1994, The Sugarhill Gang performed Rappers Delight at VIBE's first anniversary party. The crowd-including L.L. Cool J, Treach of Naughty by Nature, D.J. Premier of Gang Starr, and Heavy D-goes wild, highlighting 94's resurgent interest in the "old school." Here's a section taken from Vibe Online about the Gang's impact on the Hip Hop World.

Why begin with "Rapper's Delight"? That record didn't really start anything, many would argue. Hip hop's diverse expressions-its dance, music, and visual art-were going strong in the Bronx anywhere from five to 10 years before "Rapper's Delight" came out in the fall of 1979. The Sugarhill Gang were mostly from Jersey, anyway, and their rhyme style-by Bronx standards at the time-was wack. Big Bank Hank mad bit the lyrics of Grandmaster Caz (of the Cold Crush Brothers) and didn't even bother to change Caz's patented "C-A-S-N-O-V-A" lyric. Among masters of live shows and park jams, Sugarhill had no routines, as their "Showdown" single with the Furious Five would clearly demonstrate later. In an age when the DJ was king, they had none. And anyway, the Fatback Band's "King Tim III (Personality Jock)" came out first. So why prop the Sugarhill Gang at all?

Answer - Flawed as it is and controversial as the circumstances of its birth may have been, "Rapper's Delight"-of all the hip hop records that have ever been released (and there have been many, many great and greater ones)-is unique for one simple reason: It's the only record after which, no matter who you were or what you did in hip hop, everything was different. It changed the rules of the game. Its wide release made hip hop instantly international. Its commercial success renegotiated the scope of what was imaginable, possible, probable, and doable.

Let's be clear: Rapper's Delight was not the beginning. Yet - and purists may cringe at this - it is the single most important release in hip hop history. 1994 marked 15th anniversary of the record's debut.

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