Rock's First Diva
by Steven Hager
EPUB ISBN 978-1-4659-3707-0
copyright 2012 by Steven Hager
Published by Steven Hager at Smashwords
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Immediately after publishing the first article on hip hop in the Village Voice, I wrote a story about Arlene Smith and the Chantels, which went into their relationship with Morris Levy, who’d later become a thinly-veiled character in The Sopranos epic. Levy routinely took all publishing rights from his acts, something common at the time. Although their records were huge hits and Arlene was the first goddess of rock’n'roll and pioneered the girl group sound, she ended up feeling used and exploited and broke. Her story was a bit sad, but my editor at the Voice, Thulani Davis, who was black herself, loved it. It was a message I wanted to send to the Sugarhill acts, who were then about to be destroyed by Sylvia Robinson, who was busy creating her own phony hip hop acts like the Sugarhill Gang, who would have been laughed off the stage at a South Bronx jam, since their style was so soft and weak in comparison to the delivery of a Busy Bee or Melle Mel or Grandmaster Caz or Kool Mo Dee.