Sylvia Robinson was not a rapper herself — she was a hit singer. In the late 1960s when she and her husband, Joe, founded All Platinum Records, she became one of the few women to produce records in any genre. Robinson discovered artistes, co-wrote and produced tracks, including the label’s hit song Love On A Two Way Street by the group The Moments before restarting a solo career in 1973 with Pillow Talk, a song she wrote for Al Green which he rejected. The song reached No. 1 on the R&B chart and landed No. 3 on Billboard Hot 100.

Even so, her greatest achievement was her decision in 1979 to produce a recording in what was then a new music genre — rapping. Eventually, Robinson would help produce the world’s first commercial rap single — Rapper’s Delight — by The Sugarhill Gang, which sold millions of copies. And that is perhaps why some have decided to call her “the mother of hip-hop.”

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Image : Sylvia Robinson began making records aged 14. Photo: Getty