100 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs of All Time

What makes a great hip-hop song?

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2. Sugarhill Gang, "Rapper's Delight"

It took three guys from New Jersey to put hip-hop, a still-underground New York-born phenomenon, on Top 40 radio for the first time. Bronx DJ Grandmaster Flash recalled hearing "Rapper's Delight" on the air and asking, "The Sugarhill who? Who are these people?" Sugar Hill Records founder Sylvia Robinson got the idea for the song while watching a DJ talk over a record in a Harlem club, and she formed the Sugarhill Gang shortly thereafter. On the original 12-inch single, "Rapper's Delight" was 15 minutes of urban-playboy bragging over a disco-rhythm track that blatantly quoted the bass line in Chic's 1979 hit "Good Times." Chip Shearin, who played bass guitar at the "Rapper's Delight" session, recalled "sweating bullets" as he played the song's body-moving lick, without changes or mistakes, for a quarter-hour. Shearin, then 17, was paid $70. Chic's Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards did much better, eventually getting writer credits and royalties after threatening legal action.

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