Music pioneer Sylvia Robinson, an R&B singer and co-founder of seminal rap label Sugar Hill Records, died Thursday at a New Jersey hospital, Billboard magazine reports. She was 75.
Robinson,known as the "mother of hip hop," had a successful career as a recording artistand producer. She scored her first hit, the Bo Diddley-written "Love Is Strange"in 1957 as a member of the duo Mickey And Sylvia, and even produced The Moments' "Love On A Two Way Street" in 1970. Her1973 song "Pillow Talk" reached #3 on the pop charts and sold more than 2million copies.
But Robinson was also a businesswoman. In 1968, she and her husband Joe created All Platinum Records. However, it was the rap label, Sugar Hill Records, that they created in 1979 that forever etched her name in the hip hop history books.
On Sugar Hill Records, Robinson released hip hop's first commercially successful rap record, "Rapper's Delight" by the Sugar Hill Gang. Robinson assembled the group's three members,Big Bank Hank, Master Gee, and Wonder Mike.
"Rapper's Delight"was the first rap song to break into the top 40, reaching #36 on the U.S. pop chart.
By 1982, Robinson's Sugar Hill Records scored another massive rap record, Grandmaster Flash And The Furious Five's "The Message." In 2007, the New York group became the first MCs to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame. Last year the song was featured in a Kia commercial.
Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five member Eddie "Scorpio" Morris conveyed condolences for Robinson. "Today, we lost Sylvia Robinson, the owner of Sugar Hill Records.She will be missed," Morris wrote in a statement posted on his Facebook page. "Without her vision, many careers would not have been a reality .. including ours. With love,may you R.I.P."
Sugar Hill Records also included other influential hip hop artists, Funky Four Plus One; Treacherous Three, that featured Kool Moe Dee; and pioneering female rappers, The Sequence,that introduced us to soul singer Angie Stone.
The Sequence's"Funk You Up," one of my all time favorite rap songs, was released the same year as the Sugar Hill Gang's "Rapper's Delight."
Photo credit: Getty Images
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