The Mother of Hip Hop

Sylvia Robinson

It seems that each week we lose another great person of the music industry. Therefore, I have decided to stop mourning the losses, but to celebrate the persons’ life and accomplishments. Yes, this week we lost someone that many may not know, but she was definitely an icon in the Hip Hop world. I’m speaking of Sylvia Robinson who died at 75 years of age on September 29th. She started out in the 1950’s singing as “Little Sylvia” as one half of the duo Mickey and Sylvia with an R&B number one hit “Love is Strange” which found new life in the film Dirty Dancing in 1987.  Then in 1979 she and her husband Joe founded Sugar Hill Records and released the huge hit Rapper’s Delight by Sugar Hill Gang. I remember as a teenager listening to this “poetry” set to Chic’s “Good Times”.  I was a budding musician learning how to write and arrange music and like some musicians I was dismissive of Rap music. “It will never last” I said then. Of course, it did last and was the birth of an entirely new music genre called Hip Hop. Why was Sylvia Robinson considered by some to be the mother of Hip Hop?  Well, her son Joey was a member of Sugar Hill Gang and his mother (Robinson) helped with the funding for the group and new music label. Consequently, she could easily be considered the mother of Hip Hop. Publicist Lynn K. Hobson called Robinson a trendsetter in music. My goodness, what a trend she set! Hip Hop and Rap music are the gas that helps drive the music industry car these days. Yes, now we should celebrate Sylvia Robinson’s life and her unbelievable achievements.  After all, she may very well have been the mother of Hip Hop.

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