Rap’s Delight: The Legacy of Sylvia Robinson

09.30.2011

MUSIC

A woman created the modern industry of hip-hop.

Sylvia Robinson, who died yesterday, September 29, 2011 at 75, is responsible for pushing hip-hop into the mainstream. Before Russell Simmons gave the world Run-DMC, Robinson changed music when she produced “Rappers’ Delight” by The Sugarhill Gang, a group she created. The song was a wholesale recasting of the Nile Rodgers-produced disco smash with Chic, “Good Times,” made brand new with rhymes. “Rapper’s Delight” was not only the first rap song to chart on Billboard’s Top 40, it was also one of the first songs an entire generation of hip-hop kids would memorize. The record was hip-hop’s first great national moment, it was exciting. The Sugarhill Gang were amateurs at best, and have been called so, on the record. But even the legendary Grandmaster Caz of the duly respected Cold Crush Brothers, who dismissed Big Bank Hank and crew’s lyrical ability, acknowledged Robinson’s Sugar Hill Records “introduced the world to rapping and rhyming” with the major crossover hit.

With “The Message” as with her first hit, label head Sylvia Robinson sat behind the board in the studio and actually produced Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five‘s landmark anthem. With a single song, produced and released to the public by Robinson, hip-hop found its voice as social documentary and resistance music. Sylvia Robinson was an artist herself–before producing two of rap’s most important and biggest hits, she performed the sexy song she’d written for Al Green, “Pillow Talk,” a ’70s soul classic. She was an early believer, a visionary music executive who used improvisational skills to shepherd what was a local, experimental new music into a worldwide phenomenon. She deserves, as much as or more than any of her more celebrated male peers, our respect and gratitude.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rich.britton2 Rich Britton

    She looks eerily similar to Beyonce in that pic. R.I.P tho. I remember watching her talk abt hip hop in docs and she sounded so revere.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BSI36HJ3UULLKCUILFNOP42N7Y Tyson Morse

    First it was nick cage and john travolta…now beyonce? doppelganger affect

  • http://www.facebook.com/sean.rose1 Sean Rose

    May God bless her family and friends

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=505132178 Natalie Aflak

    she looks just like Beyonce! that’s crazy! may she rest in peace, she is definitely part of the roots of hip hop, a true legend!

  • Anonymous

    this look too much like beyonce…is she planning on doing a movie?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1222413041 Joel Alex

    She will be greatly missed. – Pillow Talk will always be an amazing song.

  • http://www.facebook.com/haneef.rasheed Haneef Rasheed

    RIP to the woman who pushed the music I love into the mainstream!

  • http://twitter.com/Gugz28 gugu

    damn she looks like Beyonce in that black an white pic…may her soul in peace

  • Anonymous

    man i remember when all stuff came out….props to sylvia….she helped pioneer this. people don’t realize that sometimes girls do run the world and sometimes even white guys with beards put out sick hip hop they all deserve respect for doing the unexpected.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Fanon-Wilkins/610164992 Fanon Wilkins

    love that first line dream!!!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1239902515 Kozette Livinglifewithoutyou F

    YOU’LL BE FOREVER MISSED BY MANY. FAMILY CLOSE FRIENDS AND MOST DEFINITELY YOUR FANS! PILLOW TALK WAS MY AND WILL FOREVER BE MY ALL TIME FAVORITE!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1239902515 Kozette Livinglifewithoutyou F

    ANOTHER THING YOU CAN PASS FOR BEYONCE MOTHER!

  • http://www.facebook.com/Mrs.Mabout Zatannya D. Mckenzie-Mabout

    WOW!!!! SHE LOOKS EXACTLY LIKE BEY!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/valerie.swann Valerie Swann

    SHE LOOKS JUST LIKE BEYONCE!!!WELL SHE WILL ALWAYS BE APPRECIATED AND RESPECTED.GOD BLESS HER SOUL.AND HER FAMILY AT THIS TIME.
    XOXOVALERIE

  • http://www.facebook.com/MunkiMomma Karina Fernandez

    I thought it WAS B!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1399330795 Rene Pineda

    RIP to the Real Mother of Hip Hop!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_YNXOPVGCIBYPMSCWKGWG3WGRVQ Jackie S

    OMG! Yesss! I thought this was Beyonce too!!!! They look just alike O_O
    R.I.P. Sylvia Robinson

  • http://twitter.com/mcsheriff anthony mcgowan

    ms. robinson was a great artist who produced the best rap song of all times.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=523054606 Sabrina Denise Whiteman

    CORRECTION: Beyonce looks like her.

  • http://twitter.com/drgoddess Dr. Goddess

    Dope tribute. Thank you so much, dreamy!

  • Memyself andi

    Dream, thank you sooo much for writing a great article about the woman who “created the modern industry of hip-hop.” Yessss, we do run this…

    Glad to know I’m not the only one who thought that was a pic of Bey! Beyonce does bear a striking resemblance to Sylvia Robinson.

  • http://twitter.com/glamvisage1 GlamVisage

    God Bless

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_USW6EKBK6C5B5GEHW3UGOOH25M Justin Chaitoo

    see the she put super group and put see rip the to good it good that we a person in here that we do not get how it all got start it if all learn a love put good that music is that time is good and love just love good stuff but WE NEED KNOW IT ALL STAR UNDER IT IT BAD AND GOOD US TO GETTHER THAT IT GOOD TIME SHE IS I REMEBER IN HER TIME THAT EVER TO GOT HER ABT HIP HOP IN THAT IS GOOD HER KEEP UP THINK OF THIS TIME

  • http://www.facebook.com/angelina.gammage Angel Gammage

    Power to the strong women ….. this is Bey’s doppleganger! RIP!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001016944694 Keyanna Simon

    A legend….I agree B looks like her in the top photo…..wow!

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