Kato’s Netflix Pick of August 2013: “I Want My Name Back”


Scrolling through the Netflix as I always do, searching through the categories to find something different and new, I stumbled across a real good one that I am now recommending to you.

The pick I have chosen for this month is actually a documentary called “I Want My Name Back”.  This is a piece that not only tells the story of the beginning stages of The Sugar Hill Gang, but most importantly how original members Wonder Mike and Master Gee were not only stripped of being able to use the name Sugar Hill Gang, but also even unable to use their own stage names “Wonder Mike” and “Master Gee”.

To me, this is a MUST SEE documentary for anyone interested in the history of the music industry and the treatment of its artists.

In fact, without any warning the group lost its name, status and identity.  Members were evicted from homes, became homeless, took minimum wage jobs and even turned to drugs after their careers were literally snatched out from under them, allegedly, by the Robinson family, who owned Sugar Hill Records.

Without giving away entire details of this documentary, there are a few points of it that I want to point out to generate your interest in it.  Such as Sugar Hill Records owners Joe & Sylvia Robinson’s affiliate with music mogul Morris Levy, the burning down of the building that destroyed all the masters and financial records, and of course the fake Master Gee being posed by Joe (Joey) Robinson, Jr.

This real last part I found very funny, because I remember how over the past several years I would see The Sugar Hill Gang perform and always wonder to myself, “Who in the hell is this dude with the pony tail that keeps calling himself Master Gee, and where in the hell is the REAL Master Gee?”

Another thing that was a total shock to me was finding out that original member Big Bank Hank, who’s “Hotel Motel Holiday Inn” parts in the song “Rapper’s Delight” (that I’ve always considered the most powerful), was not even written by him, but instead by Grandmaster Caz.

In short, I Want My Name Back makes the case that the founding members of the Sugarhill Gang were exploited and defrauded by the owners (Joe Robinson, Sylvia Robinson, Leland Robinson and Joey Robinson) of the now-defunct Sugar Hill Records label.

One of the very first thing that caught my immediate attention when the documentary first begins was seeing Wonder Mike on the bass guitar and Master Gee on the drums.

(By the way, how did you like old school rap style flow at the beginning of this piece?)

At any rate, check it out as it is streaming on Netflix right now!


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