Producer Paula Wagner has acquired film rights to the life story of Sylvia Robinson, the influential rap pioneer and producer known as the “Mother of Hip-Hop.”
Robinson was co-founder of Sugar Hill Records, which burst onto the music scene in 1979 with “Rapper’s Delight” by the Sugarhill Gang. Robinson produced and co-wrote that song, which was widely credited as the first hit to push hip-hop into the mainstream. She was also a driving force behind other breakthrough tracks such as “The Message,” by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five.
Robinson died of heart failure in 2011, aged 75. Wagner acquired the rights from her son, Joey Robinson, who will executive produce and consult on the project.
Music executive Robert Kraft will co-produce the film, with rapper Grandmaster Melle Mel serving as a consultant.
The film will cover Sylvia Robinson’s four-decade career in the music business, her turbulent love life and the mark she made on popular culture at a defining moment in the evolution of hip-hop.
“Sylvia Robinson’s life story has all the elements of a great film,” said Wagner in a statement. “It is not only the story of female empowerment at a time when the world of music was male-dominated, but it’s also a story of the origin of hip-hop and how this woman’s determination, immense talent and savvy business sense fostered an entire musical movement.”
“This movie is going to show how my parents were able to remain independent, keep control of their publishing and master recordings and how they later dealt with the major record labels and mob associates,” added Joey Robinson. “Sugarhill paved the way for a new genre of music that the industry had no knowledge of back in 1979. You will see the struggles of what Sugarhill went through to keep hip-hop music alive when the industry wanted to bury it.”
In addition to running successful record and publishing companies, Sylvia Robinson was a recording artist, performer, writer, producer and nurturer of fresh talent. She had an early success in 1957 as part of the duo Mickey and Sylvia with the No. 1 R&B hit “Love Is Strange,” and later as a solo artist with “Pillow Talk.”
With her husband, Joe Robinson, she founded the soul label All Platinum Records in 1966, before launching Sugar Hill Records in the 1970s. Artists for whom Robinson wrote and produced included Ike and Tina Turner, Kid Rock, Puff Daddy, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and Stacy Lattisaw.
No screenwriter or director is attached to the project at this stage.