He was not originally a rapper by trade
November 12, 2014 11:32 AM   Subscribe

Big Bank Hank, one-third of the Sugarhill Gang, the unlikely ambassadors who took hip-hop out of Bronx parks and onto the pop charts, died on Tuesday in Englewood, N.J. He was 58. posted by chavenet (37 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
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posted by Faint of Butt at 11:37 AM on November 12, 2014


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posted by Going To Maine at 11:47 AM on November 12, 2014


RIP Hank, they get a lot of love for Rappers Delight but 8th Wonder, Apache, and SugarHill Groove are all singles that stood the test of time.

Plus those records are unique in hip hop history, there was no such thing as sampling back then. If you wanted to recreate the break the way a dj would have done live then they needed to hire a band to recreate the break. That's why Sugar Hill Gang's Apache sounds different then the Incredible Bongo Band's version. Also the Sugar Hill house band included a young Tito Puente, and that's where you get those great bongo sounds on a lot of the records.
posted by LouieLoco at 11:54 AM on November 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


the Sugar Hill house band included a young Tito Puente

Ernesto Antonio "Tito" Puente, (April 20, 1923 – June 1, 2000), was an American salsa musician and Latin jazz composer.
posted by thelonius at 11:57 AM on November 12, 2014


Also the Sugar Hill house band included a young Tito Puente

Wait, what?
posted by Naberius at 11:59 AM on November 12, 2014


Tito "Time Machine" Puente was a renaissance man, a top neurosurgeon, particle physicist, race car driver, rock star and comic book hero, and probably the last hope of the human race.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 12:02 PM on November 12, 2014 [8 favorites]


There's a lot of good stuff about Hank, the Sugarhill Gang, and the shady stuff Sylvia Robinson pulled in Ed Piskor's Hip Hop Family Tree.
posted by thecjm at 12:02 PM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Okay, strike the "young" maybe. But it sounds like Puente really did play on the record. Holy hell!
posted by Naberius at 12:04 PM on November 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


Tito "Time Machine" Puente was a renaissance man, a top neurosurgeon, particle physicist, race car driver, rock star and comic book hero, and probably the last hope of the human race.

That's Buckaroo Banzai. But points for bringing up Buckaroo Banzai, whether relevant or not.

Everywhere you go... there he is.
posted by Naberius at 12:06 PM on November 12, 2014 [8 favorites]


He's here, he's there, he's Big Bank Hank and he's everywhere.

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posted by tonycpsu at 12:06 PM on November 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


RIP to the doctor of the mix.
posted by MoonOrb at 12:09 PM on November 12, 2014


jeez, scratch the young part.
posted by LouieLoco at 12:16 PM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


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posted by cazoo at 12:21 PM on November 12, 2014


I remember seeing the label on this record, that cover, that crazy striped snake, back in grade school. I don't think I actually heard the album for another year, but I'd heard the whole rhyme a few times on the playground.

Here's a pretty great warts and all interview with Sugar Hill session drummer, Keith Le Blanc.
posted by Catblack at 12:28 PM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]



posted by Smart Dalek at 12:28 PM on November 12, 2014


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posted by Hairy Lobster at 12:41 PM on November 12, 2014


HO TEL
MO TEL
HOLIDAY INN
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posted by gdav at 12:58 PM on November 12, 2014 [9 favorites]


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posted by acb at 1:09 PM on November 12, 2014


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posted by Rustic Etruscan at 1:16 PM on November 12, 2014


say what?
posted by Ham Snadwich at 1:17 PM on November 12, 2014 [5 favorites]


:/
posted by poffin boffin at 1:26 PM on November 12, 2014


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posted by cashman at 1:39 PM on November 12, 2014


What's breaking my heart with all of the hip-hop icons of my generation is how all of them seem to be barely making it to past 40. We lost Guru, Trouble T-Roy, Heavy D, Eazy-E, Jam Master Jay. I mean these guys probably partied some but I can't get my head around being without Heavy D, who was pretty much a choir boy, while someone like Mick Jagger prances around the stage like he's 18.

RIP, Hank. Thanks for the Soul Train lines.
posted by nubianinthedesert at 1:54 PM on November 12, 2014 [7 favorites]


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posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 2:01 PM on November 12, 2014


I hope that wherever Hank is now, he's got more clothes than Muhammad Ali and he dresses so viciously. I hope he got bodyguards, two big cars that definitely ain't the whack. I hope he got a Lincoln Continental and a sunroofed Cadillac.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 2:03 PM on November 12, 2014 [8 favorites]


HEY! HO!


posted by droplet at 2:26 PM on November 12, 2014


HO TEL
MO TEL
HOLIDAY INN


I saw them perform in 1996 or 1997. Not their best years, I'm sure, but when they got to that bit, everyone in the audience shouted along and it was glorious.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:29 PM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Sugarhill just got a lot less sweet.

R.I.P. (Rap in Paradise) Big Bank!
posted by Quasimike at 2:32 PM on November 12, 2014


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posted by How the runs scored at 2:37 PM on November 12, 2014


What's the deal? SUGAR HILL!

R.I.P., my man Hank
posted by porn in the woods at 2:41 PM on November 12, 2014


mean these guys probably partied some but I can't get my head around being without Heavy D, who was pretty much a choir boy, while someone like Mick Jagger prances around the stage like he's 18.

Mick Jagger is somewhat of an outlier as far as rock-star longevity goes; I think it was showed a few years ago that most rock musicians die younger than the average person. There'd be a number of factors that may be behind this (the rock'n'roll lifestyle, being a touring musician being a gruelling job that takes its toll, lack of consistent affordable healthcare (particularly in the US, where it's tied to employment; Alex Chilton, for one, died younger than he otherwise would have for want of affordable healthcare)). And then there are socioeconomic factors.
posted by acb at 5:20 PM on November 12, 2014


He was Big Bank Hank, the bosho shot.
Ain't nothing he liked better than hitting the spot.

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posted by The Great Big Mulp at 5:40 PM on November 12, 2014


Early pioneers of rap had the best names.
posted by reenum at 6:59 PM on November 12, 2014


Early 90s in my first year of high school basketball. A hugely unifying aspect of the team experience was selecting the music our team would play during the pre-game warmups. As a rookie I was deferential to the choices of the vets and who was I to say no to Rappers Delight.

Big Bank Hank served as a soundtrack for those formative experiences for me. In my teeny tiny town in the northern US a weekend in the winter drove everyone I knew, everyone I socialized with, everyone I saw and recognized around town into the gyms for the local hoops matchups. Dribbling around and shooting and making tricky layups in front of all those folks, wearing my school's jersey, feeling like a center of attention, smoothly scanning the stands to notice if the girl you're crushing on is there...

There were certainly other songs on our warmup tapes that helped define those whimsical teenage memories for me. But no one held it down for 15 minutes. And, maybe no one else had the best lyric-cum-haiku as Big Bank Hank.

Big Bank Hank! You got at me, at my place in time. holla.

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posted by Theophrastus Johnson at 9:36 PM on November 12, 2014


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posted by mistersquid at 9:53 PM on November 12, 2014


Just to give you some context, even Sarah fucking Palin claims to know all the lyrics to Rapper's Delight, and Phildelphia Mayor Michael Nutter has performed it in public.
posted by Ham Snadwich at 5:28 AM on November 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


And, maybe no one else had the best lyric-cum-haiku as Big Bank Hank.

Except for Grandmaster Caz, who actually wrote that line, along with most of Big Bank Hank's verses on that song.
posted by snottydick at 7:27 AM on November 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


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