Saturday, July 27, 2013

Wonder Mike & Master Gee - Music

(C) 2013 by Rych McCain, All Rights Reserved. No part of this column may be reprinted, re-posted or duplicated without written permission from Rych McCain Media/Syndication. Violation is subject to applicable laws.

Wonder Mike & Master Gee - Music

By Rych McCain International/Nationally Syndicated Entertainment Columnist
By Rych McCain, and Facebook

Wonder Mike & Master Gee

Pushing Past The Sugar Hill Gang!

 Photos RLJ /One Village
      In 1979, rap as we know it today did not exist. However, when one looks over the course of history, what is now known as rap has origins that go way back to Black Mother Afrika past the 13th century and even further. Today’s modern form of rap can easily be traced back to the Black West Afrikan Griots who told stories chemically over drums. Those traditions followed the slaves who used verbal beat boxes and what ever devices they could find or make to talk over with music. Jazz scatting popularized by the great Ella Fitzgerald in the 40’s and 50’s was a form of vocal phrasing using the human voice as a soloing instrument over music. During the early 60’s, rap was a way of romantically wooing the ladies. If a brotha’s “rap” was week, he didn’t have game. During this period musically, Isaac Hayes and Barry White were considered rappers because they talked to the ladies seductively over slow music. The 60’s also saw rap as a revolutionary way of talking and communicating. 60’s militant civil rights icon Hubert G. Brown was so affluent with rapping speech wise that he changed his name to H. “Rap” Brown. Then the spoken word movement of the late 60’s – early 70’s with poetry being spoken over music via “The Last Poets,” “Sons Of Watts,”Gil Scott-Heron” and “Nikki Giovanni” to name was ushered in and opened the door for what became hip hop.

    The bottom line point here is that most rhythmic creative vocal techniques are originally Black Afrikan and any form of it comes from that source. Black youth especially need to have this knowledge driven into their heads and stop thinking that the music that they are into is exclusively theirs and created by them. Wrong! They are just a link in a historically long chain. Getting back to our opening statement; Hip Hop/rap was not known mainstream until a group called “The Sugar Hill Gang” release the smash hit single “Rapper’s Delight” in 1979. It is considered the first rap record to introduce hip hop/rap to the world. The single peaked at #4 on the R&B charts and #36 on the pop

charts. In Canada and Holland it topped the charts at #1. Rolling Stone Magazine ranked “Rapper’s Delight” at #251 on their list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.

       Despite the massive success of that first single, the two main members of the original group Wonder Mike and Master Gee were betrayed by their record label and became outcasts. They were out of money and work and had to claw their way back into the game. The guys have a new DVD out titled “I Want My Name Back” that chronicles their story so their fans will know the truth. Their journey through fraud, lawsuits, lies and backstabbing makes this project a must see for any young person. Especially the one’s with aspirations to get into the rap game.

     One of the myths that Wonder Mike and Master Gee cleared up is that “Rappers Delight” was not sampled. A house band actually played the riffs from Chic’s “Good Times.” The late Sylvia Robinson is credited with being the mother of hip hop sampling but according to Gee and Mike, nothing at Sugar Hill was sampled because they had a house band at their studios in Inglewood New Jersey like Motown and other labels. The guys did add however that Sylvia had a great ear for hits and was an excellent producer. 

    So how did they get involved with Sylvia (“Pillow Talk”) and her husband Joe Robinson who owned Sugar Hill Records who would later turn on them? The guys said, “It was a real hurry, hurry, rush, rush kind of thing. It was a lot of impatience and at the same time excitement going on and they capitalized on our naivety. The late Sylvia Robinson attached her name to all of the writing credits that she didn’t write thus cashing in on the publishing. What was up with that? The guys again responded, “That was an old record business trick where if you came in and did anything to the song; change a word or two, you got your name on it. So they all knew about the whole publishing world and that was part of the reason why her name was on everything.”

     Sylvia and her husband Joe have both passed on. Did she ever reach out to the guys before her death in 2011? The guys said, “Toward the end of her life, we really weren’t communicating with her. Sometimes things go on for so long that any reconciliation kind of fades into the background of the chaos of daily living and you just don’t get around to it.” The group, now The MG Squad has been back the last several years with a new third member "Big Hank", a hit in 2009, doing world tours and new product coming out soon so the ride continues!  


      Next week, July 30th to be exact, I’ll be 11 years old.  So I’ve been reminiscing about the past decade.   How one little comment may have changed my life.  I was 4 years old swimming in my first swim Meet at Jesse Owens pool.   It was the deep side.  I was nervous. My Dad said, “Swim fast, kick hard and, just don’t stop.”  I was going to be swimming against 8 year olds. I was the smallest, all the other girls were much bigger.  The starting buzzer went off and I plopped in and began swimming freestyle in my first race.  I got to the opposite wall turned around pushed off and began swimming back to the opposite side.  When I got to the wall one of the timers were yelling at me to stop.  I was tired but I ignored her turned around pushed off and kept swimming.  There was a lot of yelling and screaming but I just kept swimming.  I reached the wall on my third lap exhausted but I pushed off again and kept swimming.  

      While swimming my 4th lap the lifeguard grabbed my arm in the middle of the pool and told me to stop.  I said, “No.”  I pushed him away and kept swimming.  When I reached the wall my Mom and Dad were there.  The spectators were laughing hysterically as well as my parents and they bent down reaching into the water and said, “… it’s okay Leroya you can stop now”.   As I got out I asked, “Where are all the other swimmers?   Did I win?”  My Dad giggled and said, “Yes you did.  You out swam them all!”  See, I was only supposed to do one lap, (25 yards) but I swam 4 Laps (100 yards).  At the time I didn’t realize that I lost the race because I remember feeling was like I won a gold medal.  We are all in a race of some sort.  My advice, just don’t stop.  The race is never over until you decide it is. Perhaps because of my hearing all of the laughter and applause as I was being pulled out of the water, I subconsciously began to love the idea of entertaining others.  Remember, every minute spent angry is 60 seconds of happiness wasted.

See Leroya performance on ABC-TVs "The View."

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