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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"
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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, later becoming an international hit and helping introduce Hip-Hop to a wide audience. "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.

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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.

Discography:

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

Tropes:

  • 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.
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    • 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.
  • Comics Rule Everything Around Me: Ur-Example, with Hank's lines in "Rapper's Delight" about Lois Lane and Superman.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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 New York Knicks, 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.
  • 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.
    • "Rapper's Delight" today almost sounds like a parody of modern rap, with their more laid-back style in huge contrast to the stereotypically-edgy style that would come to characterize rap. Big Bank Hank's verses in particular seem like they're proactively satirizing rappers who brag about their lavish lifestyle (he raps about all his clothes and cars, but then admits he's really just a schoolkid who pretends he has a swimming pool and has to watch Knicks games on TV) and rappers who specialize in boasts and pop culture references (he hits on Lois Lane and accuses Superman of having a Teeny Weenie).
  • Ur-Example: Pretty much everything we know and love about hip-hop today came from this act.

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