The Big Payback: The History of the Business Of Hip-Hop

In Music Law, Publishing by FASHIONENTLAW™

I love music but have a keen interest and love for hip-hop music. So, you can imagine how thrilled I was to see NPR, a channel I listen diligently to, do this neat interview with Dan Charnass on his latest book, The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop. The interview is a really nice look into the business of hip-hop with a clear identification of the man who helped turn hip-hop into a business, Russell Simmons.

“In 1979, producer Sylvia Robinson heard hip-hop music at a birthday party in Harlem and had a hunch that it would be commercially successful.

She called her son, Joey Robinson Jr., and asked him to gather a group of musicians who could perform like the rappers she saw in Harlem. She then held makeshift auditions for a rap group outside a pizza parlor in Englewood, N.J.

“She put these three guys together who had never met each other before, had the backing track all ready and created a record in a matter of minutes,” says Dan Charnas, a former rap industry executive who chronicles the history of hip-hop in a new book, The Big Payback.

The group that Robinson put together, Charnas says, would become the Sugarhill Gang, and the track they recorded was “Rapper’s Delight,” the first hip-hop single to break into the Top 40 charts.

“Basically, it’s a record that created an industry,” Charnas says. “Nobody thought the stuff that was in the streets was even music. It was stuff that people did at parties. But Sylvia Robinson had the notion that she could turn it into a record. And she did, and it was extremely successful, due in no small part to her own production genius. . .” ~NPR

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