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Sugarhill Gang’s Big Bank Hank Dies at 57 from Cancer

A Little Hip-Hop Trivia Hank Actually Spit Grandmaster Caz of The Cold Crush Brothers Rhymes on Rapper's Delight

******UPDATED NOV 11TH @ 11:42PM********

“..the grandmaster with 3 MCs that shock the house for the young ladies”

big bad hank

Big Bank Hank, born Henry Lee Jackson in the Bronx on Jan. 11, 1956, grew up close to DJ Kool Herc, Coke La Rock, The Cold Crush Brothers and other hip-hop pioneers. Hank had been suffering from cancer, TMZ reports. ‘We’re told he passed away in the greater NYC area around 2 AM. Hank was one-third of the famous Sugarhill Gang … which had the first mainstream rap hit “Rappers Delight” in 1979.’

Sugarhill Gang – “Rapper’s Delight” | Official Music Video | 1979 | HD

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cELt9nCWY_0&w=853&h=480]

Wonder Mike and Master Gee issued a statement Tuesday:
“So sad to hear about our brother’s passing. The 3 of us created musical history together with the release of Rapper’s Delight. We will always remember traveling the world together and rocking the house. Rest in peace Big Bank.”

GrandmastercazThe three friends were unknown rappers when producer Sylvia Robinson recruited them to record the song for her rap label, Sugar Hill Records. What most fans didn’t know is that Hank who used to manage The Cold Crush Brothers used one of Grandmaster Caz (who was also known as Casanova Fly within his crew), rhymes, including spitting Caz’s name in the song. To my knowledge as of the last time I spoke with Caz several years ago, he never received any royalties or thanks for it. At the time Caz explained he didn’t sweat it because he just knew Hank would get them put on next, but that never happened.

In 1998, Caz was listed #11 out of Blaze Magazine’s Top 50 MCs of all Time. He was also inducted into the Technics DJ Hall of Fame in 1999. In June 2008, Grandmaster Caz was inducted into the Bronx Walk of Fame. A street plaque bearing his name is now on permanent display on the Grand Concourse, the most famous thoroughfare in the Bronx.

Check it out, I’m the C-A-S-AN, the O-V-A and the rest is F-L-Y
You see, I go by the code of the doctor of the mix and these reasons I’ll tell you why

 

Caz speaks briefly about it on the Beef II DVD:
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfh2cKl1hjs]

Released in fall 1979, “Rapper’s Delight” became a novelty hit and a staple at dance clubs well into 1980. It has been credited as the first recorded rap record, but there has always been much controversy surrounds this assertion as some regard “King Tim III (Personality Jock)” by The Fatback Band, which was released a few weeks before “Rapper’s Delight”, as a rap record, which doesn’t always get credit as first since they weren’t actually a rap group.

Before the sample clearance era, Rapper’s Delight was recorded over an instrumental breaks from Chic’s popular hit “Good Times,” (a favorite track to rhyme over by emcees at the time). “Rapper’s Delight’s” borrowing of the “Good Times,” bassline prompting threats of legal action by Chic co-founders Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards. After a settlement, Rodgers and Edwards were listed as co-writers of the song.

“It felt like a new art form,” Rodgers said later of “Rapper’s Delight.”
In 2011, Rolling Stone ranked “Rapper’s Delight” at No. 248 on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Rapper’s Delights along with Run-DMC’s “Walk this Way” were two hip-hop classics are among 27 new recordings inducted into the Grammy’s Hall of Fame Class of 2014. The Academy has announced that both hits singles have been place in the Grammy Museum in downtown Los Angeles.

BW send our condolences to Hank’s family, friends and fans and while we’re not in any way intentional disrepsecting a brother who just passed away, we thought it was important to tell the whole story of one of the most famous songs in hip-hop history, he is known for! R.I.P. Big Bank Hank!

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About AJ Woodson (2262 Articles)
AJ Woodson is the Editor-In-Chief of Black Westchester and Co-Owner of Urban Soul Media Group, the parent company. AJ is a Father, Brother, Author, Writer, Journalism Fellow, Rapper, Radio Personality, Hip-Hop Historian and A Freelance Journalist whose byline has appeared in several print publications and online sites including The Source, Vibe, the Village Voice, Upscale, Sonicnet.com, Launch.com, Rolling Out Newspaper, Spiritual Minded Magazine and several others.

3 Comments on Sugarhill Gang’s Big Bank Hank Dies at 57 from Cancer

  1. I like this blog so significantly, saved to bookmarks .

  2. That was a great piece by Caz! I want that track!!!!!
    No disrespected intended but ima buss out my CC4 & my Caz joints for this rememberance!!!

  3. Another pioneer gone. RIP.

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