“Now what you hear is not a test/I’m rapping to the beat…”
If you can complete not just this sentence, but the verse before and the rest of the song, then you know the seminal hip-hop classic “Rapper’s Delight,” perhaps the most addictive sing-along song ever recorded. Big Bank Hank, Master Gee and Wonder Mike have been immortalized in hip-hop history as the trio who delivered one of hip-hop’s most enduring and pioneering recordings.
The original record, recorded by The Sugarhill Gang, on one of hip-hop’s first labels, Sugarhill Records, has been entertaining fans since its release in 1979 and has gone on to sell over 6 million copies.
In a new documentary “I Want My Name Back,” two of the performers on the original track, Master Gee and Wonder Mike, are now prohibited from using the Sugarhill Gang name. Joey Robinson, owner of Sugar Hill Records after founder Sylvia Robinson’s passing, owns the Sugarhill name.
“It’s crazy, man,” says Master Gee. “We can’t use the name Sugarhill Gang. You announced us as Sugarhill gang. We can’t do that. Our former record company people trademarked the Sugarhill gang name and according to what’s going on they said we can no longer use the Sugarhill Gang name. We can’t say we’re Sugar Hill Gang, we gotta say we’re Wonder Mike and Master Gee. You know all our hits – “Rapper’s Delight,” “Apache,” “8th Wonder,” – all those good records, but we can’t bill ourselves as Sugarhill Gang because the record company took the name from us. “
The duo, who have performed all over the world for 35 years, now bill themselves as Rapper’s Delight. Hank still uses the Sugarhill Gang name and also does performances. “They can go out and perform as SugarHill Gang. They really don’t want us – Mike and myself – to go out and do what we’ve been dong for 35 years,” says Master Gee. “We decided to call ourselves Rapper’s Delight so our fans would recognize us.”
The duo has recorded a song “I Want My Name Back” that is part of an EP they’ve recorded to go along with the documentary. It will be available to fans on July 10 when they perform at Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem. The documentary “I Want My Name Back” is available now on DVD and via iTunes.
“It’s about the good, the bad and the evil of the whole situation. It tells the story of how we got started, how Mike and I started performing together because Hank is no longer with us,” says Master Gee. Although Hank is the sole original member of the group that still performs as Sugarhill Gang, they can still use the names “Wonder Mike” snd “Master Gee” because those name are in the song.
(Photo: Courtesy Facebook fan page)