Friday, September 30, 2011

Sylvia Robinson

Kind of a controversial figure depending on who you ask, but no one would argue her influence on hip-hop, being the founder of Sugarhill Records. She died yesterday at the age of 75.

Sugarhill Gang "Rapper's Delight" (1979, Sugar Hill 12")
It's not what the song is known for but I could listen to the intro on loop for about three days.

Robinson had a bunch of hits of her own and with the duo Mickey & Sylvia, but to me she's most significant for the labels she founded with her husband Joe and the talent they engendered. Here are a few favorites from All Platinum Records, the label they founded before Sugar Hill.

Willie & the Mighty Magnificents "Funky 8 Corners Pt. 2" (1969, All Platinum 7")

Retta Young "Sending Out and S.O.S." (1975, All Platinum 7"). What can I say, I like those little telegraph beeps.

Wood, Brass & Steel "My Lady" from Wood, Brass & Steel (1976, Turbo Records, a subsidiary of All Platinum). Wood Brass & Steel was basically the backing band for the Sugarhill Gang – before samples the labels would hire bands to play music for MCs to rap over. The double-snare in this song kind of kills me.

I think Sylvia Robinson may have also co-founded Stang Records, which deserves its own post. Read the New York Times' obituary here.

No comments: