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Forty years ago, hip-hop was little known outside its birthplace, New York -- until the Sugarhill Gang decided to record their rhymes, launching the genre's rise as a dominant cultural and commercial force. The result was the group's 1979 smash "Rapper's Delight," which is credited as the commercial start of an unforgettable era in music.Once an underground style centered on live performance in New York's Bronx borough, rap and hip-hop are the most influential styles in contemporary music today.A releaseAt the beginning, making music wasn't Master Gee's end goal.Taking on social ills became signature to rap -- a musical revolution that, like hip-hop's rise to commercial fame, happened at first by accident.The record proved a sensation, and in 2007, the group became the first rap artists inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the pantheon of popular American music.Though today's hip-hop is markedly different than what came out in those nascent days, its "parents" are optimistic about its future.
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