The song is widely considered to be the first rap record. Though it’s not the first track to include rapping, it is credited with popularizing hip hop in the U.S.
The track’s history is tied with Blondie and Chic. In 1979, the bands were playing with The Clash in New York. During Chic’s ‘Good Times’, Fab Five Freddy, Big Bank Hank Jackson, Mike Wright and Master Gee O’Brien (who would later form the Sugarhill Gang), jumped on stage and started freestyling with the band.
A few weeks later, Chic’s Nile Rodgers was at a club when he heard the bass line from ‘Good Times’ sampled on a song. He asked the DJ what song it was; he said he was playing a new record that he had purchased that day in Harlem – it was an early version of ‘Rapper’s Delight’.
Rodgers originally said he was upset that the Sugarhill Gang sampled ‘Good Times’. He and Chic bassist, Bernard Edwards launched a copyright suit, though the settled out of court and received writing credits. However, Rodgers would later claim that the song is one of his favourite tunes of all time. He said: “As innovative and important as ‘Good Times’ was, ‘Rapper’s Delight’ was just as much, if not more so.”
‘Rapper’s Delight’ would go on to hit No. 36 on the U.S. pop charts, No. 4 on the U.S. R&B charts, No. 1 on the Canadian singles chart, No. 3 on the U.K. singles chart, and No. 2 on VH1’s Top 100 hip hop songs of all time.