Rappers Delight on Record Label and Legal Battles: "We're Not Sugarhill Gang!"
Hip-hoppin' on television.
Hip-hop will never die. And neither will "Rappers Delight," the song made famous in part by rap pioneers Wonder Mike and Master Gee.
As 2014 descends on Miami, The Stage will feature that pair, and their homie HenDogg, performing as Rappers Delight, alongside Suenalo, for a concert and party to bring in the New Year.
We here at Crossfade caught up with Wonder Mike, Master Gee, and HenDogg via conference call to find out what they think about Kanye West, Bob Sinclar, and the current state of hip-hop.
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Crossfade: You guys had the first rap Top 40 hit, what do you think of the current state of hip-hop?
Henndogg: The current state of hip-hip is evolving like everything else. It came from being nothing to being world culture. Everything has hip-hop: the clothes, the cars, the headphones. It's everywhere. It's alive and well.
Wonder Mike: It's one of the pillars in the pantheon of music. You can hear the anchor on your TV news say "24-7." It's not tongue in cheek or mocking. They took that and made it part of the lexicon of the world.
Master Gee: I agree with what they say. The evolution has come from us to now, with the good, the bad, and the ugly.
What do you think of Kanye?
HenDogg: He's a genius, man. He could probably carry himself a little more carefully about how he say things, but once you get through the rhetoric he has a great point.
Wonder Mike: He's got that armada of cameras and mics in his face and he's forced to respond. He uses it. As a gigantic solo artist, there are no other members for him to bounce things off of and cut the spotlight and make it easier. He's a heavy hitter and he uses situations to get a response. It works both ways on both sides of the lens.
Master Gee: It's a matter of overload. It can be overloading, dealing with nine million reporters and cameras and people and pictures. I would have overloaded a long time ago.
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What is the deal with "I Want My Name Back."
Wonder Mike: Go out and see it, or get it on Netflix. It's our documentary about our battle with the record label that owns Sugarhill Gang. It's a good story because it involves how we auditioned to cut the record ["Rapper's Delight"], the early shows, and being one big happy family. And then it evolved into what it is today with all the legal battles.
Who currently owns "Rappers Delight," the song?
Master Gee: We're about to work that all out in 2014. That's really being negotiated right now. We've never been prevented from performing it live, though.
What is your set like?
HenDogg:Some of your favorites, the hits, and some new stuff. We always kill it. People don't expect our level of high energy. We know exactly what to do, it's like second nature.
Wonder Mike: We're not goin' up there and posin' and fakin' the funk. We bring the noise, and that's why we been around so long. That's why they have called us down to Miami to bring in 2014. We broke wide open in 1979, and they're still calling for us 'cause we gon' bring the heat.
Master Gee: Last time we performed at Mansion, they were hanging from the ceiling.
How did your collaboration with DJ Bob Sinclar come about?
HenDogg: We did a song with him called "Lala." DJs over seas are like rock stars, and he has an amazing following, especially in Europe. He got ahold of our peeps and now we got like ten million new YouTube hits. The song went number one in Europe and charted over here.
What do you think about mixing hip-hop and electronic dance music?
Master Gee: The proof is in the pudding. That's exactly what we think about it.
What is the most important thing a young rapper today should know about the music business?
HenDogg: Never forget the second word. It's a business and you have to learn as much about it as possible to be successful. And always be a leader. Don't be a follower.
Who is more important the MC or the DJ?
Wonder Mike: The DJ at one time was more important to the people. In the street, the DJ was bigger, because they had the music. But in the recording world, you can't see it on a record, so the rapper became the focal point, 'cause they were the vocalist. Now DJs are very popular again in the record business.
Any Miami artists who inspired you growing up?
Master Gee: I know KC and The Sunshine Band are from down there. KC was one of the first cats that I saw with a whole full band with horn section with dance moves. I was highly inspired by him as a musician and he writes great songs and is a phenomenal artist.
HenDogg: Sam & Dave was the bomb, bro. I got a lot of joints on my phone from them. We're definitely inspired by a lot of people from that area.
Talk about your billing as Rappers Delight Featuring Wonder Mike and Master Gee, ex-members of Sugarhill Gang...
Wonder Mike:They destroyed the name and we don't want anything to do with it. We're Rappers Delight, jack.
Master Gee: The issue is with the record label. The record label's son goes out on the road and uses the name. I don't know who's in the band.
Wonder Mike: We keep our blinders on and just keep moving forward. We're not Sugarhill Gang. If they wanna fuck that name, go right ahead.
Wonder Mike and Master Gee. Performing as Rappers Delight with HenDogg, featuring DJ T Dynasty, along with Suenalo, plus DJs Heron and Self Born. Tuesday, December 31. The Stage, 170 NE 38th St., Miami. The show starts at 9 p.m. and tickets cost $75 plus fees via wantickets.com or $100 at the door. Ages 21 and up. Call 305-576-9577 or visit thestagemiami.com.
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