Written by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers, it was first recorded by their band Chic for their 1979 album Risqué. It quickly became #1 on a couple different Billboard charts and eventually Rolling Stone ranked it #224 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
But how did it become such an, excuse the pun, “Rappers Delight?” You can watch the awesome video above or read the following transcript based on the video:
In late 1979, Debbie Harry suggested that Nile Rodgers join her and Chris Stein at a Hip hop event in a communal space taken over by young kids and teenagers with boom box stereos, who would play various pieces of music to which performers would break dance. The main piece of music they would use was the break section of "Good Times." A few weeks later, Blondie, The Clash and Chic were playing a gig in New York at Bonds nightclub. When Chic started playing "Good Times," rapper Fab Five Freddy and members of the Sugarhill Gang jumped up on stage and started freestyling with the band; Rodgers allowed them to "do their improvisation thing like poets, much like I would playing guitar with Prince." A few weeks later Rodgers was on the dance floor of New York club LaViticus and suddenly heard the DJ play a song which opened with Edwards bass line from "Good Times". Rogers approached the DJ who said he was playing a record he had just bought that day in Harlem. The song turned out to be an early version of "Rapper's Delight" by The Sugarhill Gang, which Rogers noted also included a scratched version of the song's string section. Rogers and Edwards threatened The Sugarhill Gang with legal action, which resulted in them being credited as co-writers on "Rappers Delight." In the USA "Rapper's Delight" did not achieve as much chart success as "Good Times" (peaking at #36 on the U.S. pop chart and #4 on the American R&B charts, compared to Chic's #1 peak on both charts) but it helped to popularize the bassline and the song, and it became one of the most sampled tracks (and hence one of the most distinctive basslines) in the history of recorded music. Having agreed on a commercial structure for the use of their song in "Rappers Delight", Edwards and Rodgers agreed to later uses in other songs, subject to their strict criteria.
Now let’s look at nine other songs that sample or were inspired by the famous bassline. "Good Times" is one of the most sampled songs in history, so this list only, er, scratches the surface. We’ll start with these five:
“The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash,” by Grandmaster Flash, “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright,” by Father MC, “It’s All Good,” by Will Smith, and “2345Meia78” by Gabriel O Pensador. Check out the video I sampled below from the amazing documentary “Everything is a Remix” by Kirby Furguson, part 1 of which you can sample here.
Of course, there are many more than the following four. Our list could have stretched all the way to 100, and beyond! But these four are worth a closer look:
7. Another One Bites The Dust - Queen
Now this isn’t a true sample, it’s merely inspired by “Good Times.” But it’s such a great story, I thought I should include it. In an interview, Chic co-founder Bernard Edwards stated, "...that Queen record came about because that Queen bass player... spent some time hanging out with us at our studio."
Take a listen here.
8. Triple Trouble - Beastie Boys
This song, put out in 2004, is pretty cool because it samples "Rapper's Delight," so it’s like a sample of a sample. I’d love to hear a band come along and take it down another level, to the third degree. Take a listen here.
9. Doowutchyalike - Digital Underground
10. Just The Two Of Us - Chubb Rock
This song is from his 1991 release entitled The One, which reached #13 on Billboard's "Top Hip-Hop/R&B" chart for that year. Take a listen here.