Sylvia Robinson, soul singer and producer of the pioneering rap hit “Rapper’s Delight” died in New Jersey on Sept. 29 from congestive heart failure. She was 75.
According to NewsOne, a family spokesman confirmed to the Sister 2 Sister Web site that Robinson died at Meadowlands Hospital in Secaucus.
The singer started out as one half of a duo in the late 1950s. Her single “Love is Strange” with guitarist Mickey Baker hit the Billboard charts, according to NPR. After going solo, she scored her own first hit in 1973 with “Pillow Talk.” The success of the single ushered in a new era of Black female singer’s sexual self-confidence.
Robinson also played a vital role in pushing hip-hop music to the forefront. She was an executive at Sugar Hill Records and produced the landmark single “Rapper’s Delight” by the Sugar Hill Gang in 1979. After hand-selecting the performers in the song, she recorded the single in one uninterrupted 14-minute take. Thereafter, she mailed the single to radio stations and pressured them to play it. It is rumored that subsequently thousands of orders poured in for the world’s first commercial rap single.
In 1982, Robinson produced Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five’s “The Message,” which went on to be another classic hip-hop track.