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‘Empire’ Writers Tapped to Script “Mother of Hip Hop” (Sylvia Robinson) Story for Film

'Empire' Writers Tapped to Script "Mother of Hip Hop" (Sylvia Robinson) Story for Film

Is the phrase “The ‘Empire’ Effect” a *thing* yet? If not, in time I’m sure it will be. Today’s news helps make it so…

A pair of writers on the hit Fox series – Carlito Rodriguez (also once editor-in-chief of The Source, and writer for HBO’s “The Leftovers”) and Malcolm Spellman (a record label owner and manager of “black roots” singer Fantastic Negrito, who also co-scripted “Our Family Wedding”) – have been “borrowed” to script the previously announced biopic on the late Sugar Hill Records co-founder Sylvia Robinson, a singer, songwriter and record producer, who formed the pioneering hip-hop group Sugarhill Gang and made the first commercially successful rap recording with them. She died at 75 years old in September 2011 of congestive heart failure, after being in a coma.

She built a successful career as an R&B singer before she and her husband, Joe Robinson, formed Sugar Hill Records in the 1970’s, and went on to nurse a musical genre that came to dominate the mainstream. 

In the late 1960s, Ms. Robinson became one of the few women to produce records in any genre when she and her husband founded All Platinum Records. She played an important role in the development of the group The Moments, producing their 1970 hit single “Love on a Two-Way Street.” But her greatest achievement was her decision in 1979 to produce a recording in what was then a considered a new musical art form known as rapping, masterminding the Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight,” the first hip-hop single to become a commercial hit. 

Some call her “the mother of hip-hop.” 

The film project is currently set up at Warner Bros, with Paula Wagner, music executive Robert Kraft and Stephanie Allain producing.

Born Sylvia Vanderpool in New York City in 1936, Ms. Robinson made her recording debut at 14, singing blues on Columbia Records, while she was still a high school student in NYC. She went on to make several other blues recordings for the label. In 1964, she married Joseph Robinson (who died of cancer in 2000), a musician, and settled in Englewood, NJ, where the couple opened an eight-track recording studio called Soul Sound, and established the All Platinum label.

Grandmaster Melle Mel will serve as consultant to Joey Robinson.

No casting possibilities announced yet. But feel free to speculate.

The Hollywood Report was first to report the news of the hiring of Rodriguez and Spellman.

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