I hate it that “OKP News” too often means “bad news” about the passing of another talented and influential artist, but that’s whats on the menu today. Singer and Sugar Hill Records founder Sylvia Vanterpool Robinson, often referred to as the “mother of hip-hop”, passed away at the age of 75 this morning at roughly 6:30 am at Meadowlands Hospital in Secaucus, NJ (the cause of death is noted as ‘congestive heart failure’, after a prolonged illness of about five months). Hip-hop’s biological parents are still unidentified but Robinson was inarguably the mid-wife of rap music, having produced and released both the Sugar Hill Gang‘s “Rapper’s Delight” and Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five‘s “The Message”–the two shots heard round the world, so to speak–on her groundbreaking Harlem-based imprint. Along with Flash, Herc & Bam she is very high on that shortlist of people about who we (at least those of us who’s livelihood depends on rap music in some way) can say with confidence: we wouldn’t be here without her.
She was also, of course, a talented singer in her own right. She may be best known for the signature tune “Pillow Talk” (watch the Soul Train performance, circa 1973, above) which helped lay the foundations of an earlier musical revolution with is proto-disco groove. But somehow “Sunday” (listen below) seems a more appropriate memorial, even if we got the bad news on a cloudy Thursday. And after that we’re gonna run John Legend singing “Motherless Child.”
spotted at S2S