Sugarhill Records - this one is probably the toughest call on the whole list. There is no denying it - like the previous entry on this list, Enjoy Records, Sugarhill Records simply changed music. Their release Rapper's Delight is considered to be the song that "broke" rap in the mainstream. Given that hip hop changed not only popular music but culture in general, in just about every way possible - it's difficult to overstate the importance of Sugarhill Records. So, surely for that - and for releasing tons of great music - they belong on this list, right?
BUT....there are also plenty of allegations that Sugarhill isn't exactly a shining example of how to run a record label. There were disagreements with 99 Records over a sample, and other rumors of ripped off songs and lyrics and artists not being paid. Of course, sampling was very new at the time. In fact, sampling as we know it today wasn't even possible in the early days of hip hop and it was a legal gray area at the time. BUT...Sugarhill was eventually ordered to pay 99 Records for the use of one of their artist's songs (Sugarhill declared bankruptcy before they had to pay up). Beyond the 99 situation, what is rumor and what is fact is pretty unclear.
The bottom line? Sugarhill gets a pass in my book for long lasting influence and for the fact that the one thing that IS clear is that they really did release some great music.
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