Picks and Pans Review: The Sugar Hill Records Story

updated 03/03/1997 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/03/1997 AT 01:00 AM EST

Various Artists

In 1979 a small New Jersey label released a single by a crew calling themselves the Sugarhill Gang. The song was "Rapper's Delight," an infectious party anthem that went on to sell millions and lift rap from the underground and place it firmly in the mainstream. "Rapper's Delight" is just one of the seminal rap singles included on this five-CD collection, which traces the musical legacy of Sugar Hill Records.

From the throw-your-hands-in-the-air glee of the Funky 4 + 1's classic "That's the Joint" to the pioneering sounds of the female rap group the Sequence, all the way to Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five's groundbreaking slice of social consciousness "The Message," The Sugar Hill Records Story documents what was arguably rap's most influential label.

A lot has changed since "Rapper's Delight" owned the clubs. Back then rap was a playful soundtrack to good times; these days it's an often-demonized billion-dollar industry. Filled with some of the greatest moments in recent pop memory, The Sugar Hill Records Story is a butt-shaking tribute to a genre that changed America's cultural fabric. (Rhino)

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