The Guardian is reporting that Sylvia Robinson, known to many (especially you older readers) as the mother of hip hop, has passed away at the age of 75. She was a recognized artist in her own right, and yet that was totally overshadowed by putting together the Sugarhill Gang.
That’s right, without her, the world would have never known the magic that is Rapper’s Delight, and hip hop wouldn’t have come nearly as far as it has.
Thanks to Sylvia Robinson, hip hop is a a recognized art form, and we all owe her a huge debt.
Here is a snippet from the article:
Although rap was already in its infancy, the genre had yet to be recorded. Robinson assembled a trio of Jersey kids – Big Bank Hank, Wonder Mike and Master Gee – and dubbed them the Sugarhill Gang. Hiring a band to recreate the rhythm from Good Times, they recorded the first rap single. "This was in the days before samplers and drum machines, when real humans had to play things," said bassist Chip Shearin. "Sylvia said: ‘I’ve got these kids who are going to talk real fast over it; that’s the best way I can describe it.’"
Robinson released Rapper’s Delight on Sugar Hill Records, founded with her husband Joe. While it only reached No 4 in the R&B charts, it launched a movement. By the early 80s, the label’s roster included the biggest names in the scene: the West Street Mob, Funky Four Plus One, the Treacherous Three, and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. When the latter released The Message in 1982, Robinson was listed as co-producer.