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Sylvia Robinson





Ahmet Ertegun Award

Artist, songwriter, producer, record label owner, and CEO: the original hip-hop mogul. Sylvia Robinson laid the foundation for rap to flourish into the most lucrative music genre today.

Sylvia Robinson

Sylvia Robinson


By Alan Light

Sylvia Robinson played many roles in the music world – artist, producer, and, most notably, record executive. But as the founder and leader of the pioneering Sugar Hill label, she revealed herself to be something even rarer. She was a visionary.

In 1979, “Rapper’s Delight” by the Sugarhill Gang introduced hip-hop to the global mainstream, illustrating the genre’s commercial and creative potential. Robinson had overseen the record’s backing track, assembled the group members, and arranged their vocals – but fundamentally, it was her idea that rap was even viable as recorded music. Her place in history would be secured by that track alone, though it was far from her only impact on the direction of pop.

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Class of 2022
Rap on record was completely revolutionary. It took Sylvia Robinson to make it happen.
Bill Adler
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