Grandmaster Caz | MC Delight (Casanova’s Revenge) | 2000
With this song Bronx emcee and DJ Grandmaster Caz (aka Cassanova Fly, from The Mighty Force DJ Crew and The Cold Crush Brothers) settled his account of the Sugar Hill Gang controversy that stated that, allegedly, the lyrics for ‘Rapper’s Delight’ were plagiarized from him. In this song he claims that he had writen the part of SGH’s Big Bank Hank, who had been the manager of his band, but he never received any royalties or thanks for it.
On this day in music history: September 16, 1979 - “Rapper’s Delight”, the debut single by the Sugarhill Gang is released. Written by Michael Wright, Hank Jackson, Guy O'Brien, Sylvia Robinson, Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers, it is the debut release biggest hit for the New Jersey based rap trio. Recorded at Joe and Sylvia Robinson’s All Platinum Studios (redubbed “Sugar Hill Studios”) in Englewood, NJ, the rhythm track and vocals are recorded entirely live in a single take. Though technically not the first rap record released (“King Tim III (Personality Jock)” by Fatback is released a few weeks before in August of 1979), it spreads the New York City born underground phenomenon beyond its five boroughs to the rest of the US, and the world. The song is an instant smash and at its sales peak is selling over 30,000 copies a day. Initially released only as a 12" single, it sells over three million copies in the US alone (featuring the full unedited version on one side (original labels list the timing as 15:00, though the actual running time is 14:29), and a edited version on the flipside (listed as 6:30 on the label, the actual running time is 7:10) ). It is later revealed that the verses by Big Bank Hank were actually written by Grandmaster Caz (aka Curtis Fisher) of The Cold Crush Brothers but does not receive a writing credit or receive royalties from sales of the record. Chic members Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers also have to sue Sugarhill for proper credit and royalties since the song borrows the music (also cutting in the strings from Chic’s record) from the band’s recent smash “Good Times”. “Rapper’s Delight” peaks at #4 on the Billboard R&B singles chart, and #36 on the Hot 100. The single is a huge international hit as well, peaking at #3 on the UK singles chart and hitting number one in Canada and The Netherlands.
On this day in music history: October 13, 1978 - “52nd Street”, the sixth album by Billy Joel is released. Produced by Phil Ramone, it is recorded at A&R Studios in New York City from July - August 1978. Buoyed by the huge critical and commercial success of his fifth album “The Stranger”, Billy Joel is ambitious to build on his new found success with an even more musically expansive work. The album takes its title from the street in New York City where producer Phil Ramone’s recording studio is located, and near the headquarters of CBS Records, also known as “Black Rock”. “52nd Street” features a number of prominent guest musicians including Peter Cetera and Donnie Dacus from Chicago (background vocals), Freddie Hubbard (flugelhorn and trumpet), Ralph MacDonald (percussion), Eric Gale, Steve Khan, and David Spinozza (guitars). The album is another artistic and commercial tour de force for the prolific singer/songwriter from Hicksville, Long Island, NY, yielding several of Billy Joel’s most popular and loved songs. It spins off three hit singles including “My Life” (#3 Pop), “Honesty” (#24 Pop) and “Big Shot” (#14 Pop), winning Joel two Grammy Awards including Album Of The Year in 1980. “My Life” is also used as the theme song for the sitcom “Bosom Buddies”, starring Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari. The album track “Stiletto” also becomes a favored sample in hip hop, being used by De La Soul (“Plug Tunin’”), Nas (“Disciple”), Kool G. Rap & DJ Polo (“Road To The Riches”) and The Cold Crush Brothers (“Freestylin’”). In 1982, it is the very first album released commercially on Compact Disc by CBS Records. Remastered and reissued on CD (with enhanced content including the promo videos for “My Life”, “Big Shot” and “Honesty”), it is also reissued as a hybrid SACD by Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab in 2012. It is also released as a limited edition double vinyl LP set by Mobile Fidelity in 2013, mastered at 45 RPM. The classic title is also issued as a 180 gram vinyl LP by Music On Vinyl. “52nd Street” spends eight weeks (non-consecutive) at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 7x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
“Ed, this would be a lot easier if you just sat still.” Alphonse said patiently. Ed muttered something under his breath that sounded like something he must’ve overheard an adult say, and Al sighed quietly. “Brother.”
“Yeah, yeah, I know.” He replied. “I’m trying.”
“Well, try harder.”
“Uuuugh.” Edward flopped backwards, jerking his hand out of Alphonse’s.
“Hey!” Alphonse picked up his hand again. He was very careful not to crush his brother’s hand in his own cold, metallic hands.
“It would be easier to cut my hand off.” Edward said.
“I know.” Alphonse went after the splinter with a pair of tweezers he could barely keep his fingers around for what felt like the hundredth time. He would’ve bit his tongue if he had one, but settled for humming quietly as he pressed the tweezers against Edward’s finger, aaaand-
“I got it!” Alphonse lifted up the tweezers, showing off the splinter, which was actually concerning bit. “Wow. That’s gotta be a record.”
“Well, put it in a container or something.”
“Pouting is unbecoming.” He wiped the tweezers on his apron, cleaning them of the splinter, and then placed it back in the medkit. Edward muttered something else, and Alphonse couldn’t help but giggle quietly. “If Roy hears you saying that sort of thing-”
“He’s not my dad.”
“What about Riza?”
“You’re a horrible little brother, you know that?”
On this day in music history: August 13, 1985 - “The Show” / “La Di Da Di” by Doug E. Fresh & The Get Fresh Crew / Doug E. Fresh & M.C. Ricky D. is released. Written by Douglas E. Davis and Ricky Walters, it is the first single and biggest hit for the rap group from New York City. Born in Barbados and raised in Harlem, NY, Doug E. Fresh pioneers the vocal percussion sound beatboxing, mimicking the sound of a drum machine with his mouth. After appearing on the single “Pass The Boo-Dah” (a rap parody of Musical Youth’s “Pass The Dutchie”) with DJ Spivey and Spoonie Gee (under the name the Boo-Dah Bliss Crew) in 1983, Doug releases his first single “The Original Human Beat Box” on Vintertainment Records in 1984. Not long after this, he forms Doug E. Fresh & The Get Fresh Crew consisting of fellow M.C. Ricky D. aka “Slick Rick” (born Richard Walters) and DJ’s Chill Will (Will Finch) and Barry Bee (Barry Moody). Signing with Fantasy Records distributed Reality Records in 1985, and go into the studio with jazz musician Dennis Bell (Dave Valentin) and engineer Ollie Cotton (A&R Studios) to record their first release. Re-creating the sound of a live performance in the recording studio, they come up with “The Show”. Based around the “Inspector Gadget Theme”, the track features Fresh rapping and beatboxing, passing lines back and forth with Rick throughout. It also includes the insistent scratching of the phrase “Oh My God”, taken from The Cold Crush Brothers’ single “Punk Rock Rap”. The B-side “La Di Da Di” features Slick Rick rapping over Doug’s beat box accompaniment, spinning an outrageous tale of going about his day, then being confronted by his ex-girlfriend and her mother who is also after him. Released in the late Summer of 1985, both make an immediate impact on the street, and quickly spreads to radio. “The Show” / “La Di Da Di” races up the Billboard R&B singles chart peaking at #4 on October 12, 1985, It is also a big hit internationally, peaking at #7 on the UK singles chart in November of 1985. “The Show” also inspires a pair of answer “diss” records, including “No Show” by Symbolic Three, and “The Show Stoppa” by Super Nature (#46 R&B). The latter is the first record and chart entry by future rap superstars Salt ‘N’ Pepa. In time, “The Show” and “La Di Da Di” go on to become two of the most influential songs in Hip Hop. Both are widely sampled and interpolated into other rap classics over the years, with the original recording of “The Show” being used in the films “New Jack City” and “CB4”. “La Di Da Di” is also covered by Snoop Dogg (as “Lodi Dodi”) on his debut album “Doggystyle” in 1993. Later CD releases of original tracks by Doug E. Fresh & The Get Fresh Crew have the interpolated lyrics from “Michelle” and “Sukiyaki” removed from both when the song publishers do not grant permission for their use. “The Show” / “La Di Da Di” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
Complex question. I have an answer, if you are willing to bear with me.
Hip Hop existed before rap radio. That is something that people don’t understand. It existed in the jams in the parks and the community centers of the South Bronx, long before MC’s or rappers even existed. Hip Hop was pure then. And it was a way to make money. Neighborhood DJ’s filled clubs and made bank spinning breaks for B-Boys to get down to. So, I don’t think it was the money that killed Hip Hop.
I think it was the loss of artistry associated with the advent of serious money making potential that killed Hip Hop. And I can pinpoint it to a date. September 16, 1979 “Rapper’s Delight” by The Sugar Hill Gang was released. Though it’s not the first rap song ever recorded, it is the first to reach top 40 audiences and gain mainstream appeal. This is the sure shot that killed Hip Hop in my opinion.
After “Rapper’s Delight” the world become aware of not only the brilliance of Hip Hop, but it became aware of the money-making potential of our fragile artform causing it to lose street credibility, the very thing that is the life blood of Hip Hop. In fact, none of the MC’s featured on “Rapper’s Delight” were really big on the Hip Hop scene - they were just lucky opportunists who happened to know Sylvia Robinson (head of Sugar Hill Records) and wanted to get on. Real MC’s like The Cold Crush Brothers had an aversion to doing rap records, because it questioned the legitimacy of Hip Hop.
Lastly, at least one of the MC’s associated with “Rapper’s Delight” did not write his own rhymes. You don’t have to check facts on this, it’s right there in the lyrics. When Big Bank Hank says, “I’m C-A-S-A, N-O-V-A, and the rest is F-L-Y.” Why would a rapper named Big Bank Hank call himself Casanova Fly? Because he didn’t write the rhyme. Casanova Fly is an alias for a rapper and DJ otherwise known as Grandmaster Caz, a founding member of The Cold Crush Brothers. Big Bank Hank was a bouncer at the door at a South Bronx club called The Sparkle. That’s how he met Caz. Hank asked Caz to use some of his rhymes. Caz just said, “here..” It wasn’t like, how much you gonna pay or none of that. Caz just threw the book on the table and said “use whichever one you want.”
That was the beginning and the end of Hip Hop. Hip Hop wasn’t in the parks anymore. It was on the radio and, eventually with Run DMC, the concert hall and arena. And it was all big business. People stopped rapping to breaks and started with pre-recorded instrumentals. They didn’t write their own raps and got paid for it. And, most detrimentally, you didn’t have to come-up on the streets anymore. You could front like you were hood, have a one-off hit and chill with your millions.