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Music / The Sugarhill Gang

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The trio in 1980. From left to right: Master Gee, Big Bank Hank, and Wonder Mike.
"I said a hip hop,
Hippie to the hippie,
The hip, hip a hop, and you don't stop, a rock it,
To the bang bang boogie, say, up jump the boogie,
To the rhythm of the boogie, the beat.
Now, what you hear is not a test - I'm rappin' to the beat,
And me, the groove, and my friends are gonna try to move your feet."
"Rapper's Delight"

The Sugarhill Gang is an American rap group, considered an important pioneer in the genre. They are best-known for the 1979 single "Rapper's Delight", the first rap number to crack the Billboard Top 40, on its way to becoming an international hit. "8th Wonder" (1980), and "Apache" (1981) are also considered classics. The band hails from Englewood, New Jersey, USA and were named after the Sugar Hill neighborhood in Manhattan. Members are Michael Wright, a.k.a. "Wonder Mike", Henry Jackson "Big Bank Hank" (who passed away on November 11, 2014) and Guy O'Brien, "Master Gee".

Compared to their successors the Sugarhill Gang have always been family friendly. They refrain from using vulgar language or F-bombs and their songs are plain, innocent fun. It comes to no surprise that they even recorded a music album for children in 1999.


The greatest honor in the band's life was the inclusion of "Rapper's Delight" in the National Recording Registry in 2011 for cultural, historical and aesthetical significance.


  • Sugarhill Gang (1980)
  • 8th Wonder (1981)
  • Livin' In The Fast Lane (1984)


  • Age-Progression Song: The full length version of "Rapper's Delight" has the protagonist rap that he was already a great rapper at age 4. He then continues to boast what he was able to do right up to age 9.
  • The Baby of the Bunch: Master Gee, as he himself says in "Rapper's Delight".
  • Badass Boast: "Rapper's Delight" is full of these.
  • Catchphrase: Each of the group has their own catchphrase in "Rappers Delight," which they use to pace their verses.
    • Wonder Mike has the page quote ("hip, hop, a hippie...") as his signature, as well as "baby brutha."
    • Big Bank Hank has his signature ending to each of his verses. The second half, especially, became iconic to him. He also always introduces Master Gee as "my mellow!"
    Hotel, motel, whatcha gonna do today. Cause imma get a fly girl, gonna get some spank and drive off in a def OJ
    Everybody go: hotel, motel, Holiday Inn! If your girl starts actin' up, then you take her friend.
    • Master Gee has his own, used similar to Wonder Mike's:
    On and on, and on, on and on.
    The beat don't stop until the break of dawn.
  • Continuity Nod: The lyric "What you hear is not a test" from "Rapper's Delight" was re-used in "Apache".
  • Epic Rocking: "Rapper's Delight", ranging from 6:30 for the 12" short version) to 14:35 for the full album version.
  • Fatherly Advice: A la Big Bank Hank in Rapper's Delight: "whatever you do in your lifetime, you never let an MC steal your rhyme"
  • Foreign Queasine: One of Wonder Mike's verses "Rapper's Delight" has the protagonist visiting his friend's mother, who turns out to be a terrible cook.
    While the stinky food's steaming, your mind starts to dreaming of the moment it's time to leave
    And then you look at your plate and the chicken's slowly rotting, and there's something that looks like cheese
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Although they are a family-friendly group, "Rapper's Delight" does contain a few innuendos in its lyrics, some of which were blatant enough for Playground Games to Bowdlerize the song for its inclusion in Forza Horizon 4.
  • List Song: All three of them dip into this at parts of Rapper's Delight, be it Hank listing all the things he has, Wonder Mike all the things as bizarre as a beat without a groove, or Gee listing all the ways he was a master rapper even as a child.
  • Long-Runners: The band has been active since 1979 and are still touring as of this day. This makes the line "You can rap until you're 100 years old" in "Rapper's Delight" all the more true.
  • Magnum Opus: In-universe. "It's time to release / my vicious rhyme I call my masterpiece" - "Rapper's Delight".
  • Nice, Mean, and In-Between: In Rapper's Delight. Wonder Mike is the "nice," whose verses are entirely wholesome numbers about funny situations and how much they love the audience and the music. Big Bank Hank is the "mean," whose verses are braggadocious and all about him sleeping around and rubbing his success in on his rivals. And Master Gee is the "in-between," being braggy and flirtateous but not excessively so like Hank's, tying both personalities together.
  • The Oner: "Rapper's Delight" was recorded in just one take.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Wonder Mike, Big Bank Hank and Master Gee.
  • Sampling: "Apache" is a cover of The Incredible Bongo Band's "Apache". "Rapper's Delight" is based on a hook from "Good Times" by Chic. "8th Wonder" samples "Ever Ready" by Johnnie Taylor and "Daisy Lady" by 7th Wonder.
  • Patriotic Fervor: "And guess what, America: we love you!" - "Rapper's Delight".
  • Product Placement: A Lincoln Continental, a Cadillac, The Nits, and Holiday Inn are mentioned in "Rapper's Delight".
  • Rule of Three: A rap trio.
  • Shout-Out:
    • "I got more clothes than Muhammad Ali" - "Rapper's Delight".
    • "Like Dracula without his fangs" - "Rapper's Delight".
    • "Apache" references The Lone Ranger ("Tonto, jump on it!", "Hi-ho, Silver, is what I say"), as well as the "Monster Mash" and "The Jerk" dances.
    • Beastie Boys songs "Slow and Low" (from Licensed to Ill) and "Shake Your Rump" (from Paul's Boutique) both sample "8th Wonder" by the Sugarhill Gang. "Shadrach", also from Paul's Boutique, samples "Sugarhill Groove".
    • The Ketchup Song (2002) by Las Ketchup was a novelty song about people who enjoy "Rappers' Delight", but could never make out what the lyrics were? So they just sang gibberish.
  • Singer Namedrop: The entire "Rapper's Delight" song. Almost every verse ends with the rapper calling upon the next one by name to do his verse.
  • Spell My Name with an "S":
    • Their band name is frequently misspelled as Sugar Hill instead of Sugarhill.
    • And please remember that "Rapper's Delight" is spelled with two Ps. Spell it with one and it becomes horrifying.
  • Unbuilt Trope: Since there had never been a hit rap single before, when it came time to release an album featuring "Rapper's Delight", their label didn't think there was a market for a full album of rapping, so besides an extended version of the hit, it also featured straightforward songs and an instrumental.
  • Ur-Example: Pretty much everything we know and love about hip-hop today came from this act.


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