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Old 09-16-2019, 12:30 PM
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"Checkbooks, credit cards, more money I bet a sucka' could ever spend..." Rapper's Delight turns 40


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Everybody go, 'ho-tel, mo-tel, Holiday Inn'. You say if your girl starts actin' up, then you take her friend!
So, 40 years ago today (9-16-1979) one of the most influential and under-appreciated songs in history was released, Rapper's Delight by The Sugarhill Gang.

Now, I was 12 when this one hit and, frankly, for the white suburbs of the ATL, Rapper's Delight was a thing, a moment, a challenge... it swept my school and all the others as the fad of fads, where groups of 12yo white kids were learning how to bust out rhymes like:

Quote:
And you could be my boyfriend, you surely can
Just let me quit my boyfriend called Superman"
I said, "he's a fairy, I do suppose
Flyin' through the air in pantyhose
He may be very sexy, or even cute
But he looks like a sucker in a blue and red suit"
I said, "you need a man man who's got finesse
And his whole name across his chest
He may be able to fly all through the night
But can he rock a party 'til the early light?
He can't satisfy you with his little worm
But I can bust you out with my super sperm!"
I go do it, I go do it, I go do it, do it, do it
An' I'm here an' I'm there, I'm Big Ban Hank, I'm everywhere
What we had no idea was that this little novelty song... and I don't even think it was respected in the NYC rap community... was going to kick off the most radical change in American pop music since Elvis. Rap has gone from being a joke, to being a touch-point in the never-ceasing American culture war against blackness, to being the dominant musical expression... effectively, as far as the popular charts are concerned, just murdering the shit out of the rock 'n roll we thought would never die back in '79.

Anyway, there's no real purpose to this thread - I've just loved this song for 40 years, learned recently that we're approaching the 40th anniversary of its release, kind of understand its historical significance and wanted to write a tribute, because, in the end, we're done rocking the night away and as Rapper's Delight introduced, we are now...

Quote:
... rappin' to the beat
And me, the groove, and my friends are gonna try to move your feet
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKTUAESacQM
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Old 09-16-2019, 12:48 PM
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As more and more time goes by...and the passing of Rik Ocasek prompted this... I play a little mental game. The Cars eponymous album came out in 1979. 40 fucking years ago.

1910-1950 is forty fucking years. 1910....1950. I can remember 1979 like yesterday...sorta. I have a hard time seeing people in 1950 feeling like 1910 was yesterday. And did people sit around pining for Bartok and Mahler? "This Presley kid is no Irving Berlin".

Ok, maybe i can see people saying that.
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Old 09-16-2019, 12:50 PM
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I remember when it came out. I was an audio engineer for a sound company that also did mobile disco, and at one point I had memorized all the words. I remember seeing a Behind the Music and how the female producer put it together, riding around in a limousine picking up rappers bringing them into the studio, putting together their boastful rhymes and creating something it would change the world.

Last edited by gaffa; 09-16-2019 at 12:50 PM.
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Old 09-16-2019, 01:03 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnT View Post
... and I don't even think it was respected in the NYC rap community...
The song gets no love from the hip hop community because it's one of the most egregious cases of plagiarism ever recorded. Big Hank straight up stole his entire rhyme from Grandmaster Caz...even went so far as to spell out Caz' name ("I'm the C-A-S-A, the N-O-V-A, And the rest is F-L-Y.")

Of course, this all happened long before Puffy made it cool to get famous off of someone else's talent.

That being said, I still enjoy the first few minutes of the song but if I really wanna hear the Sugarhill Gang I turn on Apache

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQObWW06VAM

Last edited by BeagleJesus; 09-16-2019 at 01:04 PM.
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Old 09-16-2019, 05:18 PM
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I can still do the entire 14:35 long version. I fucking love this song! I still have my 12", btw, in the original sleeve.

Last edited by Snowboarder Bo; 09-16-2019 at 05:18 PM.
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Old 09-16-2019, 05:29 PM
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKTUAESacQM - 14:35 version; it totally fucking rocks!

Last edited by Snowboarder Bo; 09-16-2019 at 05:32 PM.
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Old 09-16-2019, 06:37 PM
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Originally Posted by BeagleJesus View Post
The song gets no love from the hip hop community because it's one of the most egregious cases of plagiarism ever recorded. Big Hank straight up stole his entire rhyme from Grandmaster Caz...even went so far as to spell out Caz' name ("I'm the C-A-S-A, the N-O-V-A, And the rest is F-L-Y.")

Of course, this all happened long before Puffy made it cool to get famous off of someone else's talent.

That being said, I still enjoy the first few minutes of the song but if I really wanna hear the Sugarhill Gang I turn on Apache

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQObWW06VAM
Very true, and the most obvious theft is from Chic's Good Times, which also resulted in lawsuits. And, of course, it wasn't the first hip hop song, nor even the best available at the time, but I think the general goofiness of the song, coupled with the Chic riff(s), made it very palatable as an introduction to rap/hip hop.

And it's funny because if you asked 12yo me what the greatest threat to "rock and roll culture" was out there, I would've solemnly replied "disco". And I was so wrong, as disco didn't offer a form of... for want of a better word... masculinity which existed in rap/hip hop, and wasn't really a threat to rock 'n roll at all.

But rap, it turned out, was. It offered a vision of masculinity which was appealing to many, was cheap to do (lower barriers of entry than being a guitar god), and it was aspirational in a way that rock wasn't. And you can hear all this... the future of music... in this song as they rap about the money they're earning, the girls they're screwing, and the friends they're making. And whatever rock and roll was in 1979... and remember, in a couple of months we have the 40-year anniversary of The Wall... it was a lot, but it wasn't fun and aspirational.
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Old 09-17-2019, 08:16 AM
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Originally Posted by JohnT View Post
Very true, and the most obvious theft is from Chic's Good Times, which also resulted in lawsuits. And, of course, it wasn't the first hip hop song, nor even the best available at the time, but I think the general goofiness of the song, coupled with the Chic riff(s), made it very palatable as an introduction to rap/hip hop.

And it's funny because if you asked 12yo me what the greatest threat to "rock and roll culture" was out there, I would've solemnly replied "disco". And I was so wrong, as disco didn't offer a form of... for want of a better word... masculinity which existed in rap/hip hop, and wasn't really a threat to rock 'n roll at all.

But rap, it turned out, was. It offered a vision of masculinity which was appealing to many, was cheap to do (lower barriers of entry than being a guitar god), and it was aspirational in a way that rock wasn't. And you can hear all this... the future of music... in this song as they rap about the money they're earning, the girls they're screwing, and the friends they're making. And whatever rock and roll was in 1979... and remember, in a couple of months we have the 40-year anniversary of The Wall... it was a lot, but it wasn't fun and aspirational.

It's definitely a party starter and there is no doubt that the popularity of the song helped to reshape the entire musical landscape. I guess you could go so far as to say that it was a harbinger for all the good and bad that was about to hit the hip hop world over the next 10-15 years from it's release.

I like your analysis of late 70s/early 80s rock vs. hip hop...I have never looked at that musical time period from that perspective.
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Old 09-17-2019, 02:08 PM
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I'll go even further and say that, while not as immediate in its direct impact on American culture, the release of Rapper's Delight (RD) was as momental an occasion as the Beatles on Ed Sullivan.

Musically, the 20 years after the release of RD, we watched as rap wrested control of the R&B form fully away from the-then giants of the field, the young white guitarists who used the blues structure to create songs about aliens ("Come Sail Away"), mystical crap (half of Led Zeppelin), and whatever it was that Jethro Tull and Yes were doing... whatever it was, it was blues-based but it sure as hell wasn't the blues!

But rap? These rappers looked cool, sounded like they were intent on making money while having a great time while doing so, and banging all the hot chicks ... I mean, what better toned message for the Reagan administration?

White guys? We were singing "we don't need no education" and calling it art. (Again: no wonder "classic" rock died - the tone was completely anathemetical to the zeitgeist of the 80s, whereas Rap was right on the mark.)

And that brings me to the second point as to why this song is important... and to better understand my reasoning, it may be worth the time for the reader to listen to the 4th episode, by Wesley Morris, of the 1619 Podcast hosted by the NY Times.

Go ahead, I can wait. I need to pause my writing anyway.

Done? Good.

So think of Rap as an extension of that, an extension of the cultural re-appropriation of Black culture by African Americans. Morris... knowing the audience he was trying to reach... started his story with Yacht Rock and then, eventually culminates his story with Motown, calling the founding of it "the most important event in the history of black music in America" for it represented the first time that black people owned a stake in black culture and made money selling that black culture in a truly capitalist fashion.

And he's probably right, but the story didn't stop there, did it? For at the same time Motown was flourishing, so was white R&B... in the form of Rock 'n Roll... yet another example of cultural appropriation (look, people get mad that Led Zep "stole" Stairway, but the open theft of Muddy Waters' style and riffs is called an "important development" in the history of RnR. Puh-leeze.)

Rapper's Delight marked the next step, where the black artists... and not just the black entrepreneurs who hired black artists... would own their lives, their work, their material. They were going to make money and have a good time doing it!

So, now, in 2019, the musical world of 1979... the world the Beatles created... is dead. It has been replaced by a NYC subculture which first debuted in the mid-1970s and is highlighted, economically-speaking, by the amount of control which is held by the artists... which you can hear in this very song.

And that's why it's Pretty Damned Important.

Last edited by JohnT; 09-17-2019 at 02:12 PM.
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