Remembering Rappers Delight-30 Years Ago It Was Born

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Remembering Rappers Delight-30 years Ago It Was Born

by Davey D

Sugar Hill Gang came to life 30 years ago

Sugar Hill Gang came to life 30 years ago

With all the sudden deaths that have affected us this year-from Michael Jackson to Roc Raida to Mr Magic to local KPOO radio legend Clarence ‘Swig’ Swiggins its been hard to sit back, catch a breath and notice some of the landmark dates that have impacted our culture. My boy Bruce Banter from playahata.com hit me up to remind me that today was the 30th anniversary of Rapper’s Delight by the Sugar Hill Gang.. Wow that’s a long time…

I’m not sure of the exact date if it was October 13th 1979, but I do recall when I first heard the song it was definitely in the fall of 1979.  I think almost everyone who was around at that time has a ‘This is how Sugar Hill Gang’ impacted me story. 

I fondly recall, that Rapper’s Delight re-energized what appeared to be a dwindling culture at least as far as the emceeing/rap aspect was concerned. Prior to SHG, I recall going to parties and cats would be on the mic rapping and rapping and rapping all night long. Some groups had nice routines. Others tried to put structure into what they were doing, but for the most part, many of those parties had dissolved into cats just having massive freestyle sessions on the mic to the point that it was overkill. The block parties as I recall were dying out and many of the more established acts had moved to the clubs. If you went to a jam, gone were cats flowing on the mic nonstop all night long. Groups would do a set and although they didn’t have records, each act, whether it was the Cold Crush Brothers, the  Crash Crew or Funky 4 Plus 1 More all had signature routines that folks went to go see.

The summer leading up to the release of Rappers Delight was interesting because, I recall hearing stories about how icons like Grandmaster Flash had moved on to ‘blending’ records and playing at discos versus being at parties cutting breaks and beats.  Chic’s Good Times which is what helped propel Rappers Delight was a massive hit and anyone who even thought about rapping loved flowing over the long Niles Rodgers bass laden break.

Also that summer I recall the Fatback Band’s joint ‘King Tem III Personality Jock. It was a cool novelty record, but dude sounded nothing like the emcees who you heard on tapes or saw at the early jams. He sounded like a radio disc jockey. Years later, we found out that the rap was a throwback to the rapping and rhyming that was around before Hip Hop as we know it.  Black radio DJs always rhymed-People like Jocko henderson and DaddyO are a couple that come to mind.  Many of these jocks did so as they would introduce songs.  So while King Tem III struck a chord, it didn’t shake things up the way Rapper’s Delight did  a few months later.

In my mind Hip Hop was kind of dying until Rappers Delight emerged and then all hell broke loose. The possibility of being able to make a name for yourself and reach the stars via recording a record got everyone back to writing rhymes and taking a renwed interest in emceeing. 

The other thing I remember was that hardly anyone had ever heard of the Sugar Hill Gang. There was initial confusion because we all knew Sugar Hill was a section in Harlem,  but one of the rappers in the song Big Bank Hank was calling himself Casanova Fly. There were only two people who used that name Casanova. One was Grandmaster Caz  of the Cold Crush and the other was a ‘hardrock’ cat named Tiny who headed the Casanova Crew over on Webster Ave in the Bronx.. A lot of cats thought it was him rapping , which caused confusion  because why use the name Sugar Hill when he was up in the Bx and not Harlem. ?  It was just a matter of time before we all found out that SHG was a crew that was put together and the Casanova references was due to Hank borrowing Caz’s rhyme books.  I will post up the interview we did with Caz where he breaks all this down.. Its an interesting situation. All this lead to a couple of other questions

1-Why them and not use some of the more established, better known crews like Flash or Cold Crush or Theodore and Fanstatic Romantic 5?

2-Why use the word ‘rap’? Prior to the release of ‘Rapper’s Delight’, what became known as rap was emceeing or rhyming. Rap was what you did when you were hollaring at a female.

In anycase Rappers Delight was the song that let the world know what was occuring in New York and subsequently people all over the planet jumped in the fray and added their own seasoning to the mix…. At the same time it also represents the beginning of a culture being diluted and overtly influenced by a music industry which was dying at the time.  Folks forget the music industry had raped a soulful music expression that was popular in the clubs and completely watered it down to a commercialized ‘disco form’.  In 1979 while Rappers Delight was blowing up..you also had alot of people running around and tagging on walls ‘Disco Sucks’.  The industry needed somethinfg to help it bounce back. Rappers Delight wasn’t the answer in 79, the person who saved the industry was a cat named Michael Jackson, but thats another story.

Happy birthday Sugar Hill Gang and Rappers Delight.

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Comments

  1. rappers delight started hitting on the street of nyc in late august of 79, along with king tim the 3rd.

    • I remember distinctly Kim Tem being out in the summer of that year.. definitely b4 Rappers delight.. As for Sugar Hill I don’t recall it being out in August.. if it was it wasn’t played around my block..in soundview..but who knows.. if u recall it in august it may have been.. Most people caught wind of it in mass in the fall.. I recall it being in the Fall of 79.. I was in school and hadn’t hit the radio yet..

  2. ThatsMr.Wilson to you.. says:

    I think one of the most important aspect of Rapper delight being pushed to the mainstream, is that “our” genneration (those born between 65-74) voice was now on display 9as in the 60’s with soulmusic, 70’s with Funk;R&B). Also we saw the beginning of commercialism(Dance/PoP) -mainstream media plays) vs. underground RAP. Case in point, Sugar Hill Gang. There are considered “pop”(danceable, fun loving party groove) versus The Cold Crush Bros?/FearLess Four, who were more “street, battle style’. (dont belive me check out the battle scenes in the first independent, non-Hollywoood stereotypical movie WildStyle!).This discussion, was started with the advent of that ALL TIME fave.. Rappers Delight!!! HaHa (of course the original 15min version was tight…)

    Thats Mr.Wilson to you.. (Going back to STAR Records, on Hayes St.)

  3. e-scribblah says:

    “2-Why use the word ‘rap’? Prior to the release of ‘Rapper’s Delight’, what became known as rap was emceeing or rhyming. Rap was what you did when you were hollaring at a female.”

    well, if you notice, there’s a lot of rapping going on in rapper’s delight. all that hotel, motel stuff…

  4. Just another brick in the wall says:

    Damn 30 years. I’m that old? Rapper’s Delight came out top of Sept. King TIm was out b4, during the summer.

  5. the sequence funk you right on up turns 30 aswell, spoonie gee’s spoonie rap too, alot of 30 year annys coming up from now till the period pre run dmc. In next 2 to 3 year span.

  6. don’t forget kurtis blow’s christmas rap/rap and blow turns 30 now also.

  7. Robert Jr. James McClendon says:

    Good to hear the history! I remember hearing Rap tapes in 1977 in Philly from out of New Jersey. Cousins were sending us tapes from New York. We didn’t think it was music and we didn’t like it. That fall of 1979 set it off. If it wasn’t for Sugar Hill Records stepping out there, there would be no Def Jam. I can’t stand seeing people loving others and hating themselves. Pioneer of Rap Music and without them there would be no “industry” are – Sylvia Robinson, Sugar Hill Gang, Dj Mr. Magic, Rap Masters editors, Fab Five Freddy, King Tim III, Furious 5, Kurtis Blow, and Sequence of 1979. We skip the 30 and credit the 25. God, help us! Thanks, Davey D.

  8. Robert Jr. James McClendon says:

    Answer to question 1 – The Cold Crush and Fantastic 5 didn’t understand the concept of making records in the studio. They were great club emcee’s, but their records sucked! “Fresh, Wild, Fly, and Bold” was the only Cold Crush hit “record” ever! Fantastic had a little something off of the “Wildstayle” soundtrack, but there’s a difference between an emcee and a “rapper” (paid professional rhymer on record). Most of the routines of the Cold Crush and them were simply taking old white songs and making harmonies. That was good for those a part of the culture, but it was whack to those of us who were listening to the tapes. We learned more from Grand Wizard Theodore scratching, in Philly, than we did from CC4 and FR5 rapping. It was rappers like Melle Mel, Spoonie G, Micstro, Super Rhymes, Kool Moe Dee, and The Crash Crew that taught us how to “rap”. Everyone in Philly could emceee, but we wanted to become rappers and make “rap” records.

    Why use the word “rap”? Because “now what you hear is not a test, i’m just rappping to the beat”, “rap is our way of life, that’s why we do what we like, born to rock the mike like E.F. Hutton so don’t say nothing”, “It’s the new thing, makes you wanna swing, while us emcees rap doing our thing, its not singing like it used to be, no it rapping to rhythm in R-A-P”, “I’m a dedicated prince out of solid gold, rapping to the rhythm while I’m playing the role”, “And then you hear G-Man on your radio rapping, your feet start to tapping and your, hands start to clapping,.so you say to yourself that he’s really good”, and Sugar Hill and Enjoy sold “Rap” records, Mr. Magic played “Rap” Records on the radio, Magazines sold magazines about rappers that made “rap” records, and later Fab 5 Freddy came out with a video show called “Yo’ MTV ‘Raps'”. It was always “Rap” (rapping to the beat or rhytm) until about ’82 – ’83 with the movie “WildStyle” and then David Toop’s book. The media changed the name from “Rap” to “Hip-hop”. New York just went along to extend the culture, not understanding repercussions in the end. Hip-hop was the term that could” sell” break dancing, emceeing, djing, grafitti, sports clothing, and anything else (so-called sacred elements) Black people and Puerto Rican people ever created. Emceeing may have came out of New York, but every inner-city has their own Dj, grafitti, dress style, and dance history. The movie and book industry just packaged New York’s up and sold it to the rest of the world under the title – “Hip-hop”. Yes, we had dj’s in Philly, we were Fly, we wore addidas, we wore addidas sweat suits, we wore gold framed and mable framed glasses,we were poppin’, ect. New York wasn’t doing nothing really different except “rapping” and as soon as “Wildstyle” hit everyone was Breakin’ and doing better vandalizing grafitti tags. That movie was just propaganda to exploit what the youth of “New York” were doing. Who got paid in the end and are now the keepers of “our’ history? And for the record – Trouble Funk and Soul Sonic Force and them out of Tommy Boy Records was not Rap Music, either.

  9. Robert Jr. James McClendon says:

    I go back to a neighborhood in Philly called “Mt. Airy”. Before anyone was talking about Hollis in Queens, South Bronx, QueensBridge, Compton, ect. We were making “Rap” records about our town in Philly called “Mt. Airy Groove” by Galazy 5 and Pieces of A Dream, way before. Grand Master Flash covered Pieces of A Dream for a song called “It’s A Shame”. These were Rap songs. “So-called sacred elements” – are not so sacred when there just used to make only certain people rich, now are they? DJ Lady B (WHAT 1340a.m.) put out the first female rap out of Philly as well back in 1979.

  10. Robert Jr. James McClendon says:

    Chuck D said something very interesting on Monique’s Show. He pretty much said because Hip-hop is world-wide, it is what it is. To me, that’s like saying because for years white people and jewish people have been telling us that we, Black people, are the cursed people of Ham we are supposed to believe that. Just because Alexander the Great stole from the libraries of Kemet and “titled” things – and the greeks stole the African sciences of medicine, astrology, architecture, education, law, economics, communications, art, argiculture, mathematics, music, culture, sports, philosophy, and took the credit for all the sciences and arts that Black people created and tried to erase and destroy all other Kemetic legacies, and at the same time the jews stole their system of belief in God and their ancient secret “Kemetic mysteries” and society, and the purpose, history, and identity of Black people – that doesn’t make it true nor right.

    Point being, just because a jewish guy made a movie caled “Wildstyle” and showed the world some things he titled “Hip Hop” collaborating these four magical elements in the movie and they fell for it; just like they did the myth about Black people being cursed and that they never created nothing except “hip-hop” – that doesn’t make it true or right. The truth will set the world free. ONCE A LIE STARTS DOESN’T MEAN THAT WE HAVE TO LIVE IT FOREVER. THE WORLD IS LIVING A LIE AND IT DIDN’T START WITH HIP HOP, BUT HIP HOP CAN SHOW THE WORLD THE LIE WE ARE ALL LIVING OR IT CAN JUST CONTINUE TO “HELP IGNORANT PEOPLE – HURT OUR PEOPLE”. No Black person needs a passport to go to another country to feel the lie that they have actually been told about Black people and to feel the negative repercussions of the hip hop images they see on television to back up “the myth”.

    Did anyone ever tell you that Professor Griff got fired from P.E. for mentioning the book “The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews?” Did anyone ever read the book “The Origin of Rap Music” and the question that asked what Rap group when their record’s played backwards got a rapper saying “I got a white girl”? That was Flavor Flav. I never liked P.E. nor Sister Souljah (moment) and them a long time ago. 1) you fire your boy because you working for jews getting everybody hyped against the white man and you work for the white “jew”, and 2) you telling everybody to fight the white power and you saying you got a white girl all the while. I stopped liking P.E. like in 1991 or so. They were running game and making a lot of brothers mad at white people claiming they were a “follower of Farrakhan”, while they were working for white jews and claiming to be fucking white girls. The truth will set you free! You can’t lie forever, people. Look at Flavor Flav – that’s “Hip-hop” world-wide, my people. Just because its world-wide don’t make it “true”. Makes big profit, but it won’t set “God’s people” free. Trust me, Chuck D heard “Rapologist Speaks ’94”. I ain’t never stop teaching.

    “Preach to teach, CAUSE SUCKERS NEVER HAD THIS”

    Go ahead, continue to get you all’s money. But like the Mysteries of Kemet and the Pharoahs tombs (all enscribed “Know Thy Self”) you can’t keep the truth buried, IT WILL RISE. They running the same game from Kemet. And it shouldn’t be a “mystery”. Make your money, let him have your souls. I wipe the sand from my feet on this one. “Any man that wants to be ignorant. let him be ignorant” – so the book says.

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