Sugar Hill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight,” widely credited as Hip Hop’s first mainstream single, was one of 25 sound recordings enshrined in the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry.
South Bend Tribune reports that the song joins Prince’s Purple Rain Album, Parliament’s “Mothership Connection,” and several others in this year’s enshrinement, which honors recordings that are “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.”
Other Hip Hop entries in the Library of Congress include Public Enemy’s Fear of a Black Planet, Tupac Shakur’s “Dear Mama,” De La Soul’s 3 Feet High and Rising, and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five’s “The Message.”
Says the Library of Congress’ website of the single:
The Sugarhill Gang’s infectious dance number from late 1979 might be said to have launched an entire genre. Although spoken word had been a component of recorded American popular music for decades, this trio’s rhythmic rhyming inspired many MC’s-to-be and other future rap artists. The album version of “Rapper’s Delight” is an epic 14’1/2 minute salvo of irreverent stories and creative word play. The song dates from hip-hop’s infancy. As such, it does not address subject matter that has given rap music both positive and negative notoriety, but the song’s inventive rhymes, complex counter-rhythms, and brash boastfulness presage the tenets of hip hop. “Rapper’s Delight” also reflects an early instance of music sampling and a legal settlement; it draws its bass line and other features from Chic’s 1979 hit “Good Times.” As a result, songwriting credits for “Rapper’s Delight” include that song’s composers, Chic guitarist Nile Rodgers and bassist Bernard Edwards, as well as Sylvia Robinson and the Sugarhill Gang (Michael Wright, Guy O’Brien, and Henry Jackson). Selected for the 2011 registry.
Each year, 25 recordings are added to the registry. The public can nominate recordings at loc.gov/nrpb.