An Exclusive Interview with The SugarHill Gang and the Furious 5

“I said a hip hop the hippie the hippie – to the hip hip hop and you don’t stop” so begins the 1979 rap sensation ‘Rappers Delight,’ as though Michael ‘Wonder Mike’ Wright is preparing us for what is about to come.

Listening to this rap group’s back catalogue makes you realise the extraordinary extent to which these 5 once ordinary men not only created hip-hop, but popularised hip-hop and brought the genre to the masses.

“As I say on stage,” exclaims the extremely dapper ‘Master Gee’ as he points to Grandmaster Mele Mel and Scorpio, “they are the architects of hip-hop and [we were] the most lucratively successful rap-group in the world.”

And so, as we chat on top of The Shankly Hotel rooftop, The Sugarhill Gang and the Furious 5 look back on their career to date, share their thoughts on Saturdays “magical” gig – and reveal who they admire in today’s hip-hop scene.

The Sugarhill Gang and the Furious Five

“We’ve known each other since the beginning,” says Master Gee before adding, “we decided that it was important to use the energy we both have and bring that voice to the world – it’s important; this had to happen.”

You know talking to Master Gee and the group that they were never going to rest on their laurels, and clearly they haven’t. Keen to be heard, Scorpio – who is wearing bright red Puma trainers and matching snapback – is quick to add, “this is what we do; some people love to travel and some people don’t – we just happen to be people who love to perform and travel.” He continues, “to keep that energy is second nature, there’s no greater feeling in the world.”

Sugarhill Gang

That energy that Scorpio is referring to, however, is not always a blessing as Grandmaster Mele Mel – who is rocking a cream and gold snapback and matching gold chain– points out: “Talented people get into this business and self-destruct.”

Hendogg who, despite holding a gold magnum of champagne and wearing the coolest green tracksuit we’ve ever seen, has kept relatively quiet until now: “What gets me is that everyone on the outside thinks we’ve got it easy. They say, ‘you guys have got it easy; you get on stage, perform, hangout and party every night.

“We love it, so we make it look easy,” interjects Scorpio before adding: “you’ve got to be prepared [for fame].”

Rappers Delight and Liverpool

As the sun begins to break through the clouds, our conversation inevitably turns towards Saturday’s gig at The Shankly Hotel and what the group thought about Liverpool and the crowd.

“The Gig was crazy,” says Hendogg; “awesome,” declares Master Gee . Hendogg, however, who wore a Liverpool scarf on Saturday, expanded some more: “It’s part of our performance to bring a part of Liverpool back to Liverpool – we pay homage to you guys.”

Master Gee – who must be a Liverpool fan – was quick to speak over him, exclaiming: “Just Liverpool though, Everton was just because we had to do that.” What’s more, ‘Rappers Delight’ – which was voted second on VH1’s 100 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs, and 251st on the index of the 500 Greatest Songs Ever – has enabled the group to “love and make good music.”

Sugarhill Gang

“We’re so proud of ‘Rappers Delight.’ We’re both the architects of hip-hop and an economic success,” says Master Gee, “that’s a badge of honour.”

Indeed, it’s obvious that Scorpio is aware of both his legacy and his duty as a role model: “I think you get a good judgement of our shows when you come along and you see people bringing their children and grandchildren – that’s a testament to what you’re going to hear.”

What Scorpio said next, by his own admission, was “deep” and caused him to give out a huge roar once he’d completed his sentence: “You’re placing a 6-year-old – a sponge, in front of us and allowing us to wet it – those old and new generations, they’re our bread and butter.”

British Hip-Hop Scene

Sugarhill Gang

As for their immediate thoughts, the hip-hop legends are big Rick Ross, Common and Drake fans, yet Stormzy and Dizze Rascal prompted their most overt and animated reaction. Unable to note who said what, Stormzy’s named was greeted by a cacophony of “whoa’s!” and “yeah’s!” before Scorpio cheered: “Shout out to our boy Dizzy.”

As our conversation drew to a close The Sugarhill Gang and the Furious 5, when asked if they had a particular career highlight, gave an answer we weren’t expecting although, being the amazing performers and perennial crowd pleasers they are, maybe we should have anticipated it: “Yeah,” said Master Gee: Being here in Liverpool.”

The Shankly Hotel and Signature Live Events

The Sugarhill Gang and the Furious Five absolutely rocked The Shankly Hotel on Saturday.

Indeed, Signature Live Events are passionate about staging live music shows – and The Shankly Hotel rooftop is the perfect place to stage such events due to the incredible backdrop and its amazing atmosphere.

Explore the spacious rooftop or the delicious Bastion Bar and Restaurant down below as you enjoy a live music event that you’re sure to remember for a long time to come.

Head over to our Facebook page to see how Saturday’s gig unfolded and book your stay with us here. Or, you can contact our helpful team on 0151 236 0166 or email reservations@shanklyhotel.com.

Signature Live Events | The Sugarhill Gang with the Furious 5 Live on The Shankly Rooftop

This summer The Sugarhill Gang and Grandmaster Melle Mel & Scorpio of the Furious 5 will be taking over the rooftop of The Shankly Hotel in Liverpool to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the track that took rap music global, ‘Rapper’s Delight’.

Brought to you by Signature Live Events and taking place on Saturday 15th June, this will be a real highlight on the summer music calendar – buy your tickets today from Skiddle (digital) skiddle.com/e/13462989 or Eventim (high quality artworked paper collector’s ticket) https://evntm.uk/thesugarhillgang.

This rooftop gig will see the legends of the rap world bring their iconic sound to the music capital of the UK.

The Sugarhill Gang Live

When: Saturday 15th June

Where: Garden of Eden Rooftop, The Shankly Hotel, Liverpool

Sugarhill Gang

40 years ago the Godfathers of rap music, The Sugarhill Gang crashed into the mainstream with the first bona fide worldwide rap hit, “Rapper’s Delight.”

Eventually selling over 8 million copies and cementing the hip hop movement’s place in popular culture, this mega hit went on to become the biggest selling rap single of all time. And today, the iconic sound of The Sugarhill Gang and the Furious 5 is just as powerful and relevant to audiences old and new.

With support from our very own homegrown Liverpool rap collective the L100 Cypher we can’t wait to hear the sounds of New York and Liverpool collide at this unmissable live music event.

We’re sure it’s going to be the show of a lifetime.

The Godfathers of Hip Hop

Formed around 1979, The Sugarhill Gang were made up of Michael “Wonder Mike” Wright, Henry “Big Bank Hank” Jackson, and Guy “Master Gee” O’Brien, all from in Englewood, New Jersey. They were assembled into a group by producer Sylvia Robinson, who was the founder of Sugar Hill Records with her husband, Joe Robinson.

When they released “Rapper’s Delight” it became the first ever rap song to hit the top 40 charts. Infectious and catchy, the song borrowed the break from Chic’s ‘Good times’’, but with the Gang’s unique and bouncy sound.

The Sugarhill Gang went on to release such hits as “Apache, “8th Wonder“, “The Message and “Living in the Fast Lane. Placing themselves at the forefront of this new musical movement.

Today, the band tour with two of the original members, “Wonder Mike” and “Master Gee”, following the sad death of Big Bank Hank on 11 November 2014, after a long battle with cancer.

Still pleasing crowds with their greatest hits, they have teamed up with Henry Williams (pka Hendogg) and DJ T. Dynasty who have both performed with the group for 20 years and counting.

And this summer, the godfathers of hip hop are coming to Liverpool for a very special show.

The Liverpool Music Scene

There is nowhere better to host an unforgettable gig than Liverpool. The music scene in the city has always been the beating heart and foundation of Liverpool, and today is no different.

The Sugarhill Gang’s famous New York sound goes hand in hand with Liverpool’s fascinating history. The two cities have always been sisters, holding a bond that harks back to the Trans-Atlantic era between 1944 and 1968, when over 25,000 merchant seamen would leave Liverpool to spend two weeks in New York, followed by two weeks in Liverpool.

These men were listening to rhythm and blues in New York in the 50s and buying Little Richard and Chuck Berry records in the 60s, two years before they had been heard in Europe. And of course, this distinct sound is how The Beatles first hit the big time.

Both Liverpool and New York offered raw, vibrant and progressive music, bouncing to their own unique beats.

Over 50 years ago, The Beatles created one of the defining moments of the 1960s with their momentous gig on the roof. So, it’s only fitting to welcome fellow legends The Sugarhill Gang to the Shankly rooftop to celebrate 40 years since their momentous music breakthrough.

Get ready for a crazy Liverpool V NYC musical culture clash.

Signature Live Events

Signature Live Events is an exciting new venture with a strong focus on giving something back to the city’s already vibrant music scene.

SLE are passionate about offering live music events with a difference, and the unique Shankly Hotel rooftop offers music lovers the incredible backdrop of Liverpool’s iconic skyline and an atmosphere like no other venue. Explore the spacious rooftop and see Liverpool from all angles as you enjoy a live music event that you’re sure to remember for a long time to come.

Last summer SLE hosted some great up and coming homegrown talent such as Sub Blue and I See Rivers, alongside legends from the Liverpool music scene such as The Farm and Space.

Check out some of the amazing gigs that have happened on the roof.

Doors & bar 7:00pm – get down early.

Aftershow party is usually included in the ticket price, please check ticket info.

With so much live music to look forward to, stay tuned for all things Signature Live Events – subscribe to the YouTube channel.

Make sure you don’t miss out on the action by securing your ticket via Skiddle today. 

Summer’s coming…see you on the roof.