1979 - A Year In Rap

So, here we are entering the fourth month of the Classic Material series and things are in full swing. Of the three events we’ve held to date, all have been enormously fun, musically inspiring and each has been busier and more vibrant than the last. Our product range has been a great success with all 4 CDs now sold out and early box set editions now close to sold out. One place we’re yet to really get our game on though is the blog section of this site, but all that is about to change.We had hoped to use this space not only to post updates on our own activities but also to share other bits and pieces of interest relevant to the eras celebrated at our events. To date we’ve not done much of that so there’s a bit of catching up to do. So we’re starting in the obvious place - 1979, hip hop’s birth on wax. Produced with some assistance from Mr Wiggles of the Rock Steady Crew’s ‘Hip Hop Timeline’, here is a round up of some of the hip hop related events that made 1979 a landmark year in rap history:

- Grand Master Flash forms what is to become known as one of the greatest MC crews of all time, “Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five MCs” (pictured), consisting of Grand Master Flash (Joseph Saddler), Melle Mel (Melvin Glover), Kid Creole (Nathaniel Glover), Cowboy (Keith Wiggins), Raheim (Guy Williams) and Mr Ness AKA Scorpio (Eddie Morris).

- Label mastermind Sylvia Robinson forms Sugarhill Records and selects the line up for the label’s flagship rap act, The Sugrahill Gang. The Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” becomes the first hit rap record, although there is later controversy over the source of the some of the lyrics in the song. Casanova Fly AKA Grand Master Caz (Curtis Fisher) of the legendary Cold Crush Brothers (who formed in 1978) lays claim to writing a portion of the lyrics in the song. He is generally accepted to be correct in his assertion although it has never been tested in the courts. Later the same year, The Sugarhill Gang release rap’s first full length album, the self titled ‘Sugarhill Gang’.

- Another of the Sugarhill label’s popular groups, “Funky Four Plus One More” is formed, consisting of KK Rockwell (Kevin Smith), Keith Keith (Keith Caesar), Lil Rodney Cee (Rodney Stone), Jazzy Jeff (Jeffrey Myree) and Sha Rock (Sharon Green). They later release the classic “That’s The Joint”. KK Rockwell and Rodney Cee go on to form “Double Trouble” who appear in the classic hip hop movie “Wildstyle”. Sha Rock also goes on to form a new act joining two other female rappers in the group “Us Girls” who appear in the movie “Beat Street”. Jazzy Jeff later has a legal battle with Jive Records over the use of his stage name following Jive’s signing of Philadelphia duo “Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince”.

- The Fatback Band’s “King Tim III (Personality Jock)” is the first record recorded by a non-rap group to feature a rap verse.

- Mr Magic’s “Disco Showcase” on New York’s WHBI station becomes the first radio show to showcase rap music, although his “Rap Attack” show (launched in 1981) is generally credited with being the first radio show to play exclusively rap. Mr Magic died in 2009, aged 53.

- The 15 year old Mark Bode, son of revered artist Vaughn Bode, starts work at a heavy metal magazine and continues his father’s work, a huge influence to many in the early graffiti scene.

- A young Crazy Legs (Robert Colon) and cousin Lenny Len battle Jimmy Dee and Jimmy Lee of the Rock Steady Crew (formed in 1977) for a chance to become members of the crew. They lose but are accepted into the crew nonetheless.

Classic Material