When it comes to the world of hip-hop, The Sugarhill Gang are amongst the most legendary acts of all time. The gang were revolutionary musically, almost single-handedly creating the commercial hip-hop cultural that we know and love today.
Their 1979 hit Rappers Delight was the first rap single ever to become a Top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100, bringing hip-hop to an audience all over the world for the first time. Last Saturday the New York City five piece brought old school hip-hop to Newcastle, rocking Riverside way back to the Golden Age.
With doors opening at half 7 and the gang not getting on the stage until half 9, the two hours felt like a long wait, especially without any support or DJ to warm up the crowd. However, the wait was well worth it.
With most in their late 50’s, the amount of energy and excitement the gang put into their hour set was incredible. Grandmaster Mele Mel at one point started doing push ups on stage – his eccentric antics and biceps the size of the average head certainly made for captivating viewing.
The giant that is Wonder Mike, standing at 6 ft. 5 inches tall, despite clearly struggling with sight issues as he was guided on to the stage, was the real MVP of the night. He delivered a performance as passionate as ever, laying down the same slick flow that made him famous. In fact, all five men sonically were as good as they ever have been.
But in reality the show wasn’t about the sound, it was a about the energy, the fantastic crowd interaction and the positive vibes that made you feel like you were reliving hip-hop history. The whole experience transported you from Newcastle 2017, to NYC 1980.
Words by Johnathan Ramsay
Photography by Gordon Armstrong