Rapper’s Delight

Rapper’s Delight

Sugarhill Gang

“Rapper’s Delight” has gone down in history as the first commercially successful hip-hop single, and one of the longest at nearly 15 minutes. It is, and will continue to be, one of the most influential songs in hip-hop. Its beat, which samples the bass from Chic’s “Good Times,” has been sampled countless times, and many of the song’s phrases have become ingrained in hip-hop culture.

“Rapper’s Delight” would have been the first rap record to be certified gold (more than 500,000 copies sold), but label head Joe Robinson wouldn’t pay for an RIAA membership; instead he made his own plaques and gave them to artists. Dan Charnas quotes him in his book, The Big Payback:

Why should I pay two percent of my gross profits just to send an accountant to look at my books?

Though not the first rap gold record, it is reported to be the best-selling 12-inch single of all-time by hip-hop journalist Jeff Chang in his book Can’t Stop Won’t Stop. It was also the first rap song to appear on Billboard’s Hot 100, debuting in late 1979.

Nevertheless, the song may have never been if it hadn’t been for Grandmaster Caz, who wrote many of Big Bank Hank’s rhymes but didn’t get a dime (or any type of credit) for the song’s success at the time. He told the story behind “Rapper’s Delight” during his Vlad TV interview.

Caz also says that the first time that he listened to “Rapper’s Delight”, he fell asleep. He thought that it was too long and didn’t expect it to do very well. By the time that he realised, it was too late. For anyone with an equally short attention span, there is a medium version (7:07, six verses) and a short version (3:55, three verses).