Sugar Hill Records is the pioneering early hip hop label responsible for Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, The Treacherous Three, and of course The Sugar Hill Gang and their “Hip hop a hibbit…” you know the rest.
But did you know that Henry Stone not only put the seed money up for the company, he also pressed a lot of those early records himself right at his plant in Hialeah.
Here’s what Stone had to say about how it all came about.
“I was involved with Sugar Hill Reocrds. I put the seed money up for the record company with Joe Robinson. I was Joe Robinson’s distributor at the time, and the record actually, that “Rapper’s Delight” broke right here in Florida. Wide open. And I ordered 10,000 records. Or 13,000 records ( laughs), and Joe got all excited and said, “I can’t press em’, man!” ‘ So I sez, well I have a pressing plant Joe. I will. He sez, “Will you help me out?” So I did. Course then the record started to fan out all over, a lot. Then it broke in New York and that started to get very hot too. But this was the first area outside of the New York area that rap broke. Florida. Through my distribution.
I put the seed money up and the pressing plant to press 100,000 “Rappers Delight” and some of the other things, “The Message” and some of the other things he put out.
I was involved with the company but I wasn’t too involved. Joe Robinson was one of those tough Harlem cats. Black mafia. He was married to Sylvia Robinson who had a very big record by the way too, “Pillow Talk.”
I had a very good relationship with them. I put the money up for all these rap records and got involved promoting them. And then one day I got a call from Morris Levy. He said, “Henry, I got news for you. I’m taking over the whole Joe Robinson operation. You don’t have to worry about it. Any more pressings or money is gonna go through me.” I sez ok Morris be my guest. I didn’t wanna get too involved with that at that time. Joe was a you know a good hoodlum from Harlem. Very nice guy, but yknow, I figurd, it was far enough. I put the money up enough initially to get the thing started and that was it. He was a tough guy. Joe was a tough guy”