Two “Empire” Execs Sign On For Sugar Hill Records / Sylvia Robinson Biopic

As Straight Outta Compton dominated cinema box offices in 2015, another Hip-Hop label biopic is in pre-production. The Sugar Hill Records story is in development with Warner Bros. Pictures, according to The Hollywood Reporter. For the unnamed script, two executives from FOX’s hit series “Empire” have signed on. Producer Malcolm Spellman and writer Carlito Rodriguez are two scriptwriters.

Sugar Hill was launched by Sylvia and Joseph Robinson in the late 1970s. Since the 1950s, Sylvia had maintained a writing and singing career in R&B, Pop, and Disco—most notably her own gold-certified 1973 single, “Pillow Talk.” As independent record execs by the end of the decade, the New Jersey couple would eventually sign Rap’s first hit-makers, the Sugarhill Gang—a trio, who in 1979 released “Rapper’s Delight.” Additionally, the label and studios of the same name would be home to Grandmaster Flash & The Furious 5, The Treacherous Three, Funky 4 + 1, Spoonie Gee, and The Sequence, among others. Kool Moe Dee, Angie Stone, and Grandmaster Melle Mel were just some of the major MCs and singers to be attached to the movement.

Despite pioneering and historic success and impact, Sugar Hill is not without its controversies. Key elements of the label’s breakthrough hit was written by Cold Crush Brothers MC Grandmaster Caz, who was never credited or compensated for “Rapper’s Delight.” Additionally, the label would later adjust personnel of acts including Sugarhill Gang and Grandmaster Flash, often in dispute with artists over royalties. In the mid 1980s, after signing a distribution deal with MCA Records, Sugar Hill Records closed its doors in 1986—selling off shares to Rhino, and maintaining licensing and publishing of its storied Rap catalog. In 2002, the famed New Jersey record studios were ruined by electrical fire.

Joe, Sylvia, and their son Joey Robinson—all onetime heads of the label have all deceased. Big Bank Hank of the Sugarhill Gang has also died.

According to HipHopDX, Rodriguez is a former editor-in-chief of The Source magazine.

On paper, is this a film you would see?

Related: Finding The GOAT: The Golden Age of Hip-Hop (1978 – Present) (Video)