R.I.P Mother Of Hip-Hop, Sylvia Robinson
3 October 2011
The sad news came to us over the weekend of the loss of singer, record producer and acclaimed mother of hip-hop Sylvia Robinson. She was 75 years old.
Back in 1979 Robinson played a monumental role in the birth of hip-hop as she and her husband co-founded Sugar Hill Records, the label that put out some of the earliest rap albums and singles from Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, The Funky Four Plus One, and The Treacherous Three.
Her crowning achievement however was recruiting New Jersey rappers Master Gee, Big Bank Hank, and Wonder Mike to rap over a recording of Chic's Good Times. The resulting single, the newly-anointed Sugar Hill Gang's Rapper's Delight, was the first rap song to ever make an impact on mainstream music, and let the world know that hip-hop was a viable art form that had the potential to be the force that it is today.
Rapper's Delight was also the first hip hop track to spark a lawsuit for copyright infringement, having used an uncleared sample of Good Times by Chic. There were no clear rules for royalty payments on the fairly new practice of sampling at that time. The suit was eventually settled out of court.
In celebration of Robinson's work, here's a clip of Rappers Delight being performed live in what looks like a TV show in 1979: