Sylvia Robinson is constantly referred to as the godmother of Hip-Hop and it’s rightly so.
As it should, the rise of women in hip-hop and rap has been increasing.
Additionally, it’s only right that we take a moment to reflect on the pioneer whose brilliance led to the first major hip hop song; Ms. Sylvia Robinson.
Known as ‘Little Sylvia’ at the beginning of her music career, played an instrumental role in building the foundation for commercial hip-hop. Furthermore, Robinson had her hand in setting the template for others in the music scene as well. The music diva was a singer, record producer, and label owner known for trailblazing the sound of commercial hip-hop by the end of her career.
Born Sylvia Vanderpool in 1936, Robinson started making records as a 14-year-old student at Washington Irving High School.
By the mid-1950s, she was making news. Her reputation began to grow after she made the single, Love Is Strange (with Mickey Baker); the single was a hit that made number one on charts. As her career grew, Sylvia Robinson moved with the times and often, ahead of them. She got her start in singing the blues and R&B, again ruling the charts with her sexy 1973 Disco single Pillow Talk.
Sylvia Robinson and Her Legacy In Hip-Hop
Little Sylvia and the work she did after founding Sugar Hill Records with her husband in 1979, landed her the moniker of the Godmother or Mother of Hip Hop. After the disco queen got an earful of a new sound, she pulled together the Sugar Hill Gang and released the first commercially successful rap recording, Rapper’s Delight.
Her success with Sugar Hill was historic. 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. Her music pioneered distinct concepts that set the template for hip-hop’s entire creative arc. From party rocking, to the DJs and musicians, to social consciousness, Sugar Hill made everything possible for today’s hip-hop stars.
Stay tuned for more Black History Month facts about the music industry today. Did you know about Sylvia Robinson? Let us know in the comments below.