This song, built around Bernard Edwards' distinctive bassline, is one of the most copied and sampled records ever. With two copies of the record, DJs could create a continuous loop of the instrumental groove, providing a perfect foundation for MCs to rap over. Rap was emerging at New York block parties, and when Sylvia Robinson assembled The Sugarhill Gang to put a rap song on record, it was "Good Times" that they used for the track, looping it in the studio just like DJs did at the block parties, and even incorporating the string hits from the song. The result was "Rapper's Delight," which was released later in 1979. It sold a bunch of 12" singles and made the US Top 40 and UK Top 10, becoming the first rap song to do so. Nile Rodgers of Chic knew that his song was a block party favorite, but he didn't hear "Rapper's Delight" until he was in a club and the DJ played it. He vigorously objected to the use of his song as the track for another, and threatened legal action. Rather than fight it, Sugarhill Records settled with Chic and awarded them full composer credit, so Edwards and Rodgers are listed as the only songwriters on "Rapper's Delight." With no lawsuit, there was no precedent set for sampling, and artists began incorporating tracks from other songs with impunity throughout the '80s. It was Gilbert O' Sullivan whose 1991 lawsuit against Biz Markie finally established the legal ruling that samples must be cleared.
This song is a joyful look back at the roller-disco decade when, after Nixon and Vietnam and the times of recession, better days seemed to be ahead. "It really was a great time," Nile Rodgers told Esquire. "People were fun loving, kind, generous, open to other people's philosophies, uncritical."
The line, "Happy days are here again" is a reference to a song of that title that was popular in the 1930s as America was emerging from The Great Depression. When "Good Times" was released, America was recovering from a recession.
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