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Rapper's Delight in Ramona

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Rapper's Delight in Ramona

The Sugarhill Gang will bring their 30th anniversary tour to the Ramona Mainstage in East County on Wednesday.

The band's Top 40 hit "Rapper's Delight" was recorded in 1979 and is regarded by some as the first recorded hip-hop song, in contention with "King Tim II (Personality Jock)," by the Fatback Band.  The three young men from Philadelphia capitalized off a music style created in the streets of New York City when they recorded their only hit.  Early hip-hop was easy to listen to, extremely catchy and most important, it lacked profanity and degrading lyrics that are mainstays in hip-hop today.

Two of original gang, Wonder Mike (Michael Wright) and Master Gee (Guy O'Brien), and newcomer Henry "Big Hen" Williams -- who is replacing  Big Bank Hank (Henry Jackson) -- will be performing on the anniversary tour.

"Rapper's Delight" achieved national and global success, successfully transitioning '70s disco to an infant genre called hip-hop, despite music critics' predictions that the genre wouldn't survive. Not only did it survive, it soon opened doors to other rappers, including Grandmaster Flash.

I remember the Top 40 station the Mighty 690 AM playing "Rapper's Delight" on the air -- it was the one of the most requested songs. At the Palisades skating rink, I would wear my parachute pants and, only when that song came on, I would unzip the bottom portion to reveal the teal color inside and skate my heart out.  My record was heavily scratched because my friends and I played the song until it was memorized.  I was always Wonder Mike (yes, we pretended we were the Sugarhill Gang).

The Sugarhill Gang, Futyle, Mr. Dubie, D. Fresh, D. Krew and U.T.A. will perform at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at the Ramona Mainstage in Ramona. Tickets are $22.

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