Tuesday, December 07, 2010

"Rapper's Delight" (1980)

24. Sugarhill Gang, "Rapper's Delight" (Jan. 5, 1980, #36)

Brainchild of Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers, backing in—yeah, for sure, that's the bass from "Good Times," literally, along with generous helpings of its guitar licks too—and Fab Five Freddy, Wonder Mike, Master Gee, and Big Bank Hank occupying the house with unmitigated serene confidence, plus a big shout-out to impresario Sylvia Robinson who scored a sexy hit in 1973, "Pillow Talk," and a few years later was beating the bushes around New York for rappers willing to put it down in her studio. There aren't many songs you can get your thumb right down on as "visionary" and/or "ahead of their time" and/or "a glimpse of the future," but this one is all that, and make no mistake. One of the first genuine 12-inch hits, the various Sugarhill principals take turns stepping up to the mic to rap, introducing each other round-robin style, with the energized Chic sounds driving it all at a comfortable pace. What's that they say? It starts, "I said a hip hop the hippie the hippie to the hip hip hop, a you don't stop the rock it to the bang bang boogie say up jumped the boogie to the rhythm of the boogie, the beat," and it continues, "I got bodyguards, I got two big cars that definitely ain't the wack I got a Lincoln Continental and a sunroof Cadillac so after school I take a dip in the pool which really is on the wall I got a color TV so I can see the Knicks play basketball," and it goes like that. The only version I have on my hard drive is the full magnificent 14:37 though even the shortest I was able to find by tooling around a little on the Internet is a shade over five minutes, which is still pretty long for a top 40 hit, certainly in 1980.

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