All That’s Black: Slyvia Robinson

Slyvia Robinson, singer, musician, record producer and label executive:

Photo Credit: Michael Ochs Archives

“I never liked to copy things that are out there. I always like to come up with something new, something different.”

Known as the Fairy Godmother of Hip Hop.

In the summer of 1979, The Sugarhill Gang dropped “Rapper’s Delight”, transforming hop hop into a commercially viable property for the first time. It became the first rap single to top radio and charts and the first to sell over a million records.

Few people know that this record was conceived and produced by Slyvia Robinson. The success of that record allowed Slyvia to expand her roster, bringing in groups like Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, The Funky 4 + 1, The Treacherous Three.

In just a few years, Slyvia’s recording label, Sugar Hill Records, was one of the top independent labels. She’s arguably one of the most consequential producers and label owners of all time. Her business opened the doors for all the independents that followed from Def Jam to Top Dawg, and her music pioneered distinct concepts that set the template for hip-hop’s entire creative arc.

By Aprille’ Morris & Emily Burke

Edited By Keshav Kant

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