Why is The Sugarhill Gang’s 8th Wonder on my best 1,000 albums ever list?
It’s a fun (very) old school hip hop party album, and/but “Apache” is the towering achievement here that merits best 1,000 album list consideration.
Some stats & info about The Sugarhill Gang – 8th Wonder:
- What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Rap, Old School Rap, Party Music, Hip Hop, Funk, Dance Music
- Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – not ranked!
- All Music’s rating – 3 of 5 stars
- When was 8th Wonder released? 1981
- My ranking of the 1,000 best albums ever, the one you’re reading right now – #997 out of 1,000
The Sugarhill Gang’s 8th Wonder on Spotify
What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?
Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.
But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective take on what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.
What does The Sugarhill Gang’s 8th Wonder mean to me? What does it make me feel? Why is it exciting or compelling?
“Apache” is an ecstatically exciting song, evoking the feeling of 1980s all night dance parties in New York City, the early days of hip hop in which the “master of ceremonies” evolved into what we now think of as rappers and hip hop artists, and wildly creative turntable action in which Jerry Lordan’s “Apache” from 1960, a Western instrumental song featuring a twangy guitar and replete with string arrangement is morphed into a transcendent classic dance/rap all-timer.
Now, I must mention that with “Apache,” it’s natural from a 2021 context to start thinking about cultural appropriation and if what The Sugarhill Gang’s song does with respect to Native American culture is appropriate. I’m simply pointing that out as I’m not qualified to go further than that. But I will also just rely on the fact that the song is incredible.
There are other fun songs on 8th Wonder that get their funk on with strong old school hip hop vibes, the best of which is the title track, “8th Wonder.”
By the way, if you’re listening to a hip hop song and ask yourself, “Is this hip hop song an old school hip hop album?” and that song contains the lyrics, “Clap your hands, everybody, and everybody just clap your hands!” the answer is a resounding yes.
Also: look out for a future Beastie Boys sample on “8th Wonder.”
This album also sounds like
I’d say the closest analog is Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five (“The Message” crew) with a side of Kurtis Blow (“The Breaks”) and a nice dose of Funkadelic as well.
Pop culture stuff that’s somehow related to The Sugarhill Gang’s 8th Wonder
I thought about Netflix’ brilliant show, The Get Down, quite a bit while writing this entry. It’s one of those shows that really should have been on as long as its creators wanted it to, but because of a large production budget and not quite enough critical mass around its buzz, it was tragically canceled after its second season. A little bit like HBO’s Rome, actually, but that’s a topic to get deeper into another time.
The Get Down isn’t for everyone and can be a little all over the place at times, but when it focused on the creative process of its rapping crew (The Get Down Brothers) in late 1970s New York City, the birthplace of hip hop, it made for scintillating television.
Check this out for starters.
And this is one of my most favorite TV scenes of the last ten years (some R language, so be warned).
Ooh, that’s good stuff!
Personal stuff that’s somehow related to The Sugarhill Gang’s 8th Wonder
There are certain kinds of music and certain artists that make you think about the time and place that they originated from. The Sugarhill Gang and the birth of hip hop for sure – along with other important artists and acts who were able to cross over to the mainstream in some way as well.
It would be incredible to have been there to witness their scene in the early days, which is why The Get Down works so well as a fictionalized view into a very specific and important time in music history.
Other bands and time/place come to mind immediately in this vein, including The Ramones and the CBGB’s scene in NYC circa 1977, The Doors and the Whisky a Go Go in Los Angeles circa 1966, R.E.M. and the Athens, Georgia college music scene in the early 1980s. There are so many more, and I’m betting you’re thinking of some of your own choices right now.