Sugarhill Gang

I started last week with a question…

Should I review Sugarhill Gang?

The legendary crew transitioned rap recordings from NYC Gypsy Cabs of live routines into platinum commercial success with “Rapper’s Delight” in 1979.

Rappers were party rockers. People hadn’t sold songs, yet.

Rapper’s Delight sold 14 million records, ensuring Hip Hop wouldn’t be relegated to a live performance genre like DC GO-GO’s community. The Fatback Band’s King Tim 3 preceded Sugarhill Gang’s “Rappers Delight.’ In 1979. Fatback Band didn’t have “Rapper’s Delight’s” commercial success. Fatback Band didn’t sell 14 million records. listed 21 Rap Records Released in 1979:

  1. FatBack Band - King Tim 3
  2. Sugarhill Gang- Rapper’s Delight
  3. Grandmaster Flash & the Furious 5 - Super Rappin
  4. Funky Four Plus 1 More - “Rappin & Rockin The House”
  5. Spoonie G - Spoonin’ Rap
  6. The Younger Generation - We Rap Mellow
  7. Paulette & Tanya Winley - “Rhymin & Rappin”
  8. The Sequence - Funk You Up
  9. Lady B - To The Beat Y’all
  10. Kurtis Blow - Christmas Rappin
  11. Eddie Cheeba - Lookin Good
  12. Willie Wood & Willie Wood Crew - Willy Rap
  13. The Family - Family Rap
  14. Jazzy 4 Mc’s - MC Rock
  15. Lady D - Lady D
  16. Spider Rap - Ron Hunt
  17. Joe Bataan - Rap O Clap O
  18. Scoopy - Scoopy Rap
  19. Troy Rainey - Tricky Tee Rap
  20. Dr.  Love & Sister Rap
  21. Jocko - Rhythm Talk reviewed these records. I listed them because each one, teach one.

Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” exported Hip Hop from NYC into everywhere with a rap radio hit.

Why I wasn’t sure if I should review SugarHill Gang --

Hip Hop journalism obligation:

Every backpacker knows…Sugarhill Gang’s Big Bank Hank stole his “Rapper’s Delight” lyrics from Grandmaster Caz. Big Bank Hank worked the door at a club where Cold Crush’s Grandmaster Caz performed in the Bronx. Rap records weren’t prevalent. Big Bank Hank stole Grandmaster Caz's lyrics for the record which popularized Hip Hop. Big Bank Hank found a record deal before Grandmaster’s Caz’s Cold Crush.

I explained my Hip Hop journalism dilemma while riding COTA with Andrew Kern of Flat Black Visuals. We took the train…uh…bus  as transportation for Friday’s Sugarhill Gang/Furious 5 Newport Show.

I can’t insult legends. But I should tell a truth which is a known truth. I hold Grandmaster Caz in reverence.

While riding the number 2, we were discussing later 70s New York City.

I’d explained Bus Stile Adventures is a column I started with the intent of depicting riding the bus as a city activity like NYC subways.

Andrew felt excitement because our bus ride was en route to the NYC Rap pioneers’ live show.

I almost felt bad telling Andrew Kern about Big Bank Hank biting Grandmaster Caz.

Andrew’s excitement of seeing pioneers Sugarhill Gang, and Furious Five took me out of a purist mode into my larger understanding.

The fact Big Bank Hank knew Grandmaster Caz and sold 14 million records was important.

I decided if Sugarhill Gang doesn’t sell 14 million records, then Grandmaster Caz and Cold Crush’s fame would be different.

Does Grandmaster Caz’s group Cold Crush find mention in Jay-Z’s “I-Z-Z-O” off the Blueprint classic without “Rapper’s Delight?”

I wondered if Cold Crush’s past 20 years were better than their first 20 because of name recognition in mainstream rap from Jay-Z.

People watch Wild Style, and then you say: “Grandmaster Caz, that’s guy who Big Bank Hank stole, ‘I'm the C-A-S an' the O-V-A, and the rest is F-L-Y’ from.”

After finding a backpackers peace,  I’d determined someone rapping in 1979 was someone rapping in 1979. I felt like I could review the show and mention Grandmaster Caz without feeling like I informed a child Santa Claus didn’t exist.

I felt a private amusement about our demanding intellectual property compensation of Grandmaster Caz lyrics but we never worried that Sugarhill sampling Chic’s “Good Times” was a lawsuit settled out of court.

We jumped off the number 2, and we pranced into the Newport. I told Andrew I wouldn’t tell old black women that their high school prom song was a sham. We agreed we’d witness “Rapper’s Delight,” and “The Message” soon.

Sugarhill Gang took the stage and rocked routines.We found ourselves involuntarily waving our hands, clapping, calling and responding. The entire room’s enthusiasm for Sugarhill Gang was sincere.

Sugarhill Gang has rocked parties, TV shows, arenas and stadiums since 1979. Wonder Mike shouted RIP Big Bank Hank. I’d forgot Big Bank Hank died in 2014.

I didn’t feel like a dick, sorta. But I did laugh at teenage me’s aversion of Sugarhill Gang. I don’t quite feel like I was guilty of Rockism.

I feel comfortable reporting Sugarhill Gang were extraordinary at late 70’s rap performance in 2024. Sugarhill Gang gave historical facts, denounced violence, and gave props in intervals while making everyone party.

I realized that not caring about “Rapper’s Delight” created an “in the moment spectacle of routines.” “8th Wonder” hits different live. DJ T-Dynasty spun breaks while Sugarhill’s excelled at the art of moving butts. Sugarhill’s Hen Dog, Wonder Mike, and Master Gee were showmen.

Scorpio, Melle Mel, and a deejay took the stage for Furious Five. Grandmaster Flash wasn’t at the Newport with his crew the Furious 5 but…I kinda respected this. Flash left The Furious 5 in 1984. Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five performed together at Mass Appeal’s Hip Hop’s 50th Yankee Stadium Concert in 2023.

Newport wasn’t sold out. Flash, Herc, and Bambaataa invented Hip Hop. Hip Hop’s name Hip Hop is derived for Furious 5’s Cowboy.


I would’ve been embarrassed if Flash played into a half-empty room, in Columbus. I felt like if Grandmaster Flash plays Columbus….then it will be special.I recommend everyone watch Grandmaster Flash’s Drink Champ’s Episode.

I wasn’t tripping…

Two legendary rappers, and a deejay played “the Message.” I hadn’t seen “The Message” live. I would like seeing “The Message” with Flash but I saw “The Message.”

Scorpio was dressed like KRS-1. Melle Mell dressed like a glam rocker at the Arnold Classic.

Everyone kept partying. I laughed because KRS-1 bodied in Melle Mell in 1988 with “I’m Still Number 1.” Melle Melle battled Eminem in 2023. You couldn’t tell Melle Mel nothing. Melle Mel rapped like he owned the stage.

Soon, Sugarhill Gang reappeared on the Newport’s stage. I don’t use the term swag often. Everyone on that stage had swag, charisma, and confidence……

Sugarhill Gang, Scorpio, and Melle Mel did routines with Run DMC songs, and other classics. I sung along with everything except Vanilla Ice. The entire room was quiet while Melle Mel played Vanilla Ice. People were loud until Vanilla Ice played. I booed Vanilla Ice. The legends laughed that I booed Vanilla Ice into a quiet room. The only time that room was quiet was during Vanilla Ice.

The legends rocked some routines into breaks. Newport found vibrance again.

Sugarhill launched into “Rapper’s Delight.” I couldn’t front.

I tried thinking of the huge songs I’ve seen live. I ain’t talking. Jay-Z, Wu Tang, Jeezy,  Nas, or Ye platinum records. I’m talking 14,000,000 records sold.

I’ve seen Lauryn Hill play “Killing Me Softly.” Fugees sold 22,000,000 off that song.

Sugarhill Gang nailed their lyrics like I was watching proficient underground rappers perform for a song that sold 14,000,000 records. After, “Rappers Delight’ the legends kept rocking routines. They don’t make rappers like 1979 - 1982 emcee’s anymore…

In my memory of seeing everyone from Run DMC to Gangstarr…. rappers usually need a couple albums of songs for a show. I ain’t saying classic albums are a crutch. I wouldn’t watch Nas if Illmatic was replaced with Nas chanting for 2 hours.

This isn’t quite irony but ”Rapper’s Delight,” “8th Wonder,” “White Lines” and “Apache” are in the vicinity.

Sugarhill Gang’s show thrived with classic routines because Sugarhill came up in an area before records and their records are routines which are the roots of the culture.

I say that to say this: “I said a hip, hop, the hippie, the hippie, to the hip hip-hop, and you don't stop the rock it to the bang-bang, boogie say "up jump" the boogie to the rhythm of the boogie, the beat.”

Sugarhill Gang’s Wonder Mike said a Furious 5 rapper’s phrase “Hip Hop” using Hip Hop showmanship and people knew the name Hip Hop everywhere. 

RIP Big Bank Hank

RIP Cowboy