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Happy 50th Hip Hop
Rapper’s Delight by Sugarhill Gang
Hard to believe, but Hip Hop turned 50 years old this past week. The genre’s origins are tied to an early 70s block party and a DJ affectionately known as Kool Herc who broke out two turntables and with this tool created break beats, overlapped and combined songs for a crowded dance floor, the groundwork for what eventually became a force of nature. Hip Hop may have started small, but it became epic and in addition to being one of the most popular genres worldwide ever, its influence on nearly every other genre of music from the late 70s on is undeniable. I cover some more of that early Hip Hop story in two previous editions of Vinyl Notes about Run-DMC and Sugar Hill Records.
This is another nod to the pioneering Hip Hop label Sugar Hill Records and to the first rap to get radio time, Rapper’s Delight. The label’s first group, aptly called Sugarhill Gang, came from this underground phenomenon of neighborhood parties where talented lyricists waxed poetic over records that a DJ spun, likely unaware of what their impromptu party contribution had created and what it would become. Sugar Hill Records was on the hunt for that underground talent, from parties to pizza parlors (that’s where Sugarhill Gang member Big Hank was discovered, rapping while making pizzas).
This one is a single, circa 1979, and includes the short and long versions. Most will know the radio version, and most know that once upon a time radio was strict on how long a song could be to get radio time. The long version on side A clocks in at 15 minutes. You do not know Rapper’s Delight until you experience the extended version because “the beat don’t stop until the break of dawn.”