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Story Behind The Sample: The Sugar Hill Gang begin it all with Chic

Hip hop dates all the way back to the 1970s but one of the first smash hits from the genre was brought to us by the famous Sugar Hill Gang. The trio undoubtedly made history when their song ‘Rappers Delight’ made it into the Billboard Top 40. However, although the song was a hip hop smash, it was that funky groove that really helped the song stick in people’s heads. That was all thanks to Nile Rogers and Chic, so in this article, we are going to delve deeper and look into the origin of its infamous sample from ‘Good Times’ by Chic.

Nile Rodgers, unsurprisingly, was around well before the emergence of hip hop. In 1972, Rodgers and his friend Bernard Edwards, found a collective of session musicians that played the underground funk and blues circuit of New York and decided to form a band. Originally named The Big Apple Band, they made multiple demos but never got picked up by a label of any kind.

Becoming defeated in ’73 the two decided to break off from the band and joined the band New York City originally known as the Tri-boro Exchange. Here they landed a hit with ‘I’m Doing Fine Now’. But a short three years later the group disbanded.

In 1976, Rogers and Edwards sought to explore avenues they hadn’t before and, after having seen English glam-rock band Roxy Music, Rogers was inspired to bring the aesthetic to funk.

Recruiting talented solo session players from throughout the industry with vocalist Norma Jean Wright they recorded their first track ‘Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)’ Which got them a spot as a support act. Soon they were noticed by A&R’s at Atlantic and got a single deal for their song ‘Everybody Dance’.

Continuing on at Atlantic, the band executively produced Sister Sledge’s debut album We Are Family which was released in 1979. At this moment Chic decided they wanted to return to producing their own material. First came ‘Le Freak’ and then they revealed the lead single. Revealed to have been inspired by ‘Another One Bites the Dust’ and Blondie’s ‘Rapture’, ‘Good Times’ was an integral part of urban culture. it was popular with the roller skaters, breakdancers and even Fab Five Freddy freestyled on it.

However, it wasn’t until Sugar Hill Gang sampled the entire track that it went to a whole new level. But Rogers and Edwards initially weren’t happy with the covert way the track had been produced behind their backs and even threatened legal action over copyright. However, despite the initial friction, it was settled outside of court with the pair to be credited as co-writers.

Rogers has since said that, now, it is actually “one of his favourite songs of all time”. So the story behind the sample in ‘Rappers Delight’.

Chic drew inspiration from British artists such as Blondie and Queen for their music but somehow that glam ended up as ‘Rappers Delight’. You can listen to ‘Good Times’ and ‘Rappers Delight’ in the videos below.