The Sugarhill Gang released their single “Rapper’s Delight” on September 16, 1979. The songs was produced by Sylvia Robinson and was the first successful rap song in Hip Hop history. It was not the first ever rap song but it has become one of the greatest and most important songs in Hip Hop history.
The song samples the bass line from Chic’s “Good Times” which was used various times after by artists such as the Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, De La Soul, Fresh Prince and others. Disco fans everywhere loved the track, but it soon became a Hip Hop staple. The break-beat at 3:12 was heavily used to freestyle back in the day.
As for the rhymes, Master Gee, Wonder Mike and Big Bank Hank tell stories from going over a friend’s house for dinner and getting sick to Big Bank Hank stealing Superman’s girlfriend. We later found out that Hank used Grandmaster Caz’s lyrics, which Caz received not a penny from the label. When Hank says, “Check it out, I’m the C-A-S-AN, the O-V-A and the rest is F-L-Y” it was obvious he was using Caz’s rhymes since Casanova Fly was Caz’s stage name before he changed it to Grandmaster.
The original track is a whopping 14-plus minutes long, but after a while you forget how long it really is. It has 10 verses and like the Energizer Bunny it “keeps going and going“.
The song has been covered many times by different artists but no one did it beter than Erick Sermon, Keith Murray and Redman.
At the movies, it has been famously parodied by a little old grandmother in Adam Sandlers “Wedding Singer“. You have to admit it’s pretty cute.
On a personal note, I remember where I was when I first heard the song. I was at a music warehouse in Los Angeles when I heard it over the loudspeakers. The second time I heard it, I was at a park in East Los Angeles and I saw kids breakdancing to the song. I was hooked by both the dancing and the music! From then on, I needed more of this “stuff”. I was hooked! Once I discovered Melle Mell and the Furious Five, Kurtis Blow, The Treacherous Three, and Spoonie G I knew I was going to be listening to this ish forever. It was as if I was a the birth and saw it grow before my eyes. Instead of me raising Hip Hop, Hip Hop raised me!
This song in my opinion is one of my favorite tracks of all time. It is important because it laid the foundation for one of the greatest genres in music history. Like Ice-T’s documentary, we created something out of nothing. “King Tim III (Personality Jock)” by Fatback is original the first rap song on wax and was released 6 months before Rapper’s Delight, but did not have the commercial success as it’s predecessor.
We need to thank The Sugarhill Gang for putting in the first bricks and concrete to build the foundation. As time went on, the walls went up and began building upwards toward the sky. We just never thought it was going to go past the clouds. As for today’s music, I leave you with the immortal words of the great Kool Moe Dee,
Draw the plans, draft the diagrams
An architect in effect and it slams
And if it’s weak when I’m done
Renovate and build another one