Reviews in 200 Words

An Appreciation: Sylvia Robinson, “Rappers Delight”

In podcast, Trainer Track on October 7, 2011 at 9:05 am

The Sugarhill Gang needs to be thanked; Sylvia Robinson needs to be praised. This was the beginning, of mainstream rap—of hip-hop being accepted, of the real DJ scene. “Rapper’s Delight” is more impressive than iambic pentameter; sorry Will, it is. Earning the status of first hip-hop single to reach the Top 40 list, it’s the song that all the rest come back to. Telling a story to a beat—making it pop and flow and get everyone moving—that’s something else. Robinson was building an empire early on, though. In 1957 she recorded the single, “Love is Strange”: that twang-cow-bell-filled song that makes us all want to call “Baby.” How many films have featured that song? It’s so tight. When Al Green turned “Pillow Talk” down because it was too sexy, Robinson recorded it herself, and saw it climb to #1 on the Billboard black singles chart. Boo-yah. In 1979, she pieced the Sugarhill Gang together by driving around New Jersey in an Oldsmobile. This woman—this mother of rap—had more vision and determination than an army. It wasn’t easy, it certainly wasn’t entirely pretty, but Robinson set a foundation—she established life for so many artists.

-Micah Ling

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