42 years ago today, the world discovered Hip Hop!
Hip-Hop's first Billboard Top 40 single, “Rapper’s Delight,” was released by The Sugarhill Gang. Written mostly by The Cold Crush Brothers’ own Grandmaster Caz, it is credited with bringing the art of rap to the mainstream.
In the ’70s, disco reigned supreme in the clubs and Hip Hop was still misunderstood and exclusive to New York City and California. The culture’s cult following led to the single making a splash nationally.
By September 20, 1979, the new wave band Blondie and funk group Chic were playing a concert at New York’s Palladium with British punk legends The Clash, when Fab Five Freddy showed up with Sugarhill Gang members Big Bank Hank, Wonder Mike, and Master Gee, having just released the single which sampled Chic’s hit single “Good Times”.
Chic’s Nile Rodgers was enraged, and immediately sought legal action. He attempted to sue the Sugarhill Gang for using his band’s instrumental in their single, but the lawsuit was settled out of court. Appropriate credit was given to Chic, and the legal attention came a swarm of popularity. DJ's in clubs across the country began to spin this record every night of the week pushing the song to #36 on the Billboard 200. It went #1 in Canada and the Netherlands, #2 in Belgium, France, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and #3 in Germany and the UK. This single song sold platinum in both the United States and Canada, with over 5 million copies sold worldwide.
“Rapper’s Delight” is the most important single of Hip Hop culture.