The Sugarhill Gang

The Sugarhill Gang

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The Sugarhill Gang Review

by Alex Henderson

Although the Sugarhill Gang didn't invent hip-hop, they were the first rap act to have a huge international hit. Released in 1979, "Rapper's Delight" was millions of listeners' first exposure to hip-hop -- before that, very few people outside of New York even knew what hip-hop was. The Sugarhill Gang were also among the first rap acts to record a full-length LP; when this self-titled debut album came out in 1980, the vast majority of old-school MCs were only providing 12" singles. So The Sugarhill Gang is a historically important album even though it is a bit uneven. While "Rapper's Delight" and "Rapper's Reprise" (which features the Sequence, hip-hop's first all-female group) are excellent, most of the material is merely decent. And the ironic thing is that half of the songs aren't even rap. "Bad News Don't Bother Me" and "Here I Am," both of which find the Sugarhill Gang singing instead of rapping, are romantic R&B slow jams -- and "Sugarhill Groove" is a sleek disco-funk number that hints at Roy Ayers. So this LP can hardly be called the work of hip-hop purists; in 1980, Sugarhill Records leader Sylvia Robinson (herself a veteran R&B singer) evidently felt that putting out an all-rap album would be risky. But, while The Sugarhill Gang isn't a masterpiece, it's still an album that hip-hop historians will find interesting.

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