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'Rapper's Delight' Turns 25

Music fans were introduced to a new style of music 25 years ago, with a song that would become a hip-hop classic: "Rapper's Delight."

The song by the Sugar Hill Gang was soon a hit around the world and became the first rap song to top major music charts. The song, propelled by a groove made popular by Chic's song "Good Times," almost single-handedly helped propel the new hip-hop genre into the mainstream.

NPR's Mandalit del Barco delves into the history of "Rapper's Delight" -- and the ongoing controversy over the song. Rapper Grandmaster Caz of the Cold Crush Brothers claims the Sugar Hill Gang actually ripped off his lyrics, and he's never been paid. Caz even sang a rebuttal to "Rapper's Delight" -- "MC's Delight."

The song includes phrases that have become mainstays of hip-hop culture: "Sucker MCs" and "Don't stop 'till the break of dawn," for example. It's also invited its share of parodies -- the Adam Sandler film The Wedding Singer boasts one hilarious send-up, and the Spanish group Las Ketchup has gained some fame for a version of the tune, "The Ketchup Song."

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

As an arts correspondent based at NPR West, Mandalit del Barco reports and produces stories about film, television, music, visual arts, dance and other topics. Over the years, she has also covered everything from street gangs to Hollywood, police and prisons, marijuana, immigration, race relations, natural disasters, Latino arts and urban street culture (including hip hop dance, music, and art). Every year, she covers the Oscars and the Grammy awards for NPR, as well as the Sundance Film Festival and other events. Her news reports, feature stories and photos, filed from Los Angeles and abroad, can be heard on All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Weekend Edition, Alt.latino, and npr.org.