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Hank Jackson, aka The Sugarhill Gang‘s Big Bank Hank, has passed away from cancer at the age of 57. He, along with the other two founding members of the Sugarhill Gang, Michael “Wonder Mike” Wright and Guy “Master Gee” O’Brien, were known for their 1979 single, “Rapper’s Delight”. Made before samplers and drum machines, the song interpolated a sample from Chic’s “Good Times” and is credited as the first song to launch hip-hop into the mainstream.

“Rapper’s Delight” is one of the best selling 12-inch singles of all time, and in Jeff Chang’s essential history of hip hop, “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop,” Chang described the single as “the stuff that sounded good not in the parties, but on the live bootleg cassettes playing in the OJ cabs and on the boom-boxes —- the funny stories, the hookish slang, the same kind of stuff that would strike listeners around the world as both universal and new, not local and insular.”
Hank was discovered while working at a Crispy Crust pizzeria, when a customer, Sylvia Robinson, heard him rapping over some of Caz’s Cold Crush Brothers beats. When Hank’s powerful warble rapped, “They say that miracles never cease, I’ve created a devastating masterpiece,” he vocalized what became one of rap’s prevailing themes—self-aggrandizement.
Take a moment to listen to “Rapper’s Delight” and then check out this clip of a local performance, which features Big Bank Hank performing with a violet Kangol-style hat and a too-tight T-shirt.

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[Photo source: Hype-Hop]