Joseph Robinson Jr., one of the founding members of Sugar Hill Records, has died at the age of 53.
A North Jersey report has confirmed that Robinson died on Saturday in his Tenafly, New Jersey, home. The aforementioned publication reported that Robinson died at the home he shared with his younger brother, 49-year-old Leland.
Joseph Robinson Jr. inherited the iconic record label from his parents, Sylvia and Joseph Robinson Sr. The Englewood-based label were founded in the 1970s, and they were the team to release Sugar Hill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” back in 1979. This song is widely believed to have introduced the hip-hop genre to mainstream music.
Alongside his two younger brothers, Rhondo and Leland, Joseph Robinson Jr. took full control of Sugar Hill Records in the 1980s. Robinson was primarily responsible for the Sugarhill Music Publishing estate where he worked as the executor, and he looked to keep the legacy of the Sugar Hill Records and the family name, as well as its legacy, prominent in the genre.
In this role, Robinson had to oversee the royalties and music publishing of Sugar Hill Records’ content when the likes of Alicia Key, Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Justin Timberlake used their content.
Speaking outside the family home on Sunday to confirm Joey’s death, Leland said of his older brother, “When my parents passed away, he became like a father figure. He was good to everybody.”
According to Ambrosia For Heads, Robinson also performed as an artist on West End Mob’s “I Can’t Wait”, which was released back in 1984 and was released via Sugar Hill. Robinson also controversially took the place of Master Gee (born as Guy O’Brien) in the SugarHill Gang back in 1985. He then toured alongside Big Back Hank and various other band members with the group.
Back in March 2012, Rhondo, Leland, and Joseph each pled guilty to federal tax charges. They failed to report close to $500,000 in income from their work. According to Bet, because of this offence they were sentenced to three years probation, 400 hours of community service, and three months of home confinement.
[Image via Ambrosia Heads]