On Sunday, Jan. 15, Bravo will premiere First Family of Hip Hop, a docuseries that traces the lives of the Robinson family, the musical dynasty behind Sugar Hill Records. However, they're not only behind the scenes of the music industry. One if its younger members, in particular, has her eye on the hip hop throne, and LeA Robinson’s music shows she just might have what it takes.
First Family will follow LeA and her fellow heirs as they vie for the top spot at Sugar Hill, a landmark label founded by Sylvia Robinson in 1979. Under her guidance, it helped shape the course of early hip hop in the ‘70s and ‘80s, giving way to the first charting rap song in history with The Sugar Hill Gang’s iconic “Rapper’s Delight.” Robinson died in 2011, and now her family members must fight — often with one another — to keep the name alive. LeA thinks she should be the one to take the reins. “Only one of us can be in charge," she says in the promo. "Sugar Hill was started by a woman. It's destined to be run by a woman again."
Like Sylvia, LeA's industry aspirations run deep. The songs that litter her SoundCloud date back to 2012, when she was roughly 19. Her style spans from modern, R&B-inflected pop to the funky, old school hip hop that Sugar Hill made its signature. Her only full album so far appears to be 808s & Leggings, a radio-oriented collection from 2014. The previous year, she released a music video for single “Higher,” a soaring, Mariah Carey-esque tune.
LeA’s most recent track appears to be 2015’s “Down In My DM,” a hot-blooded ode to her social media inbox. According to her Bravo bio, she’s currently at work on a new EP titled S.A.Y. (Songs About You), though a release date has yet to be announced.
But LeA is not the only Robinson with industry aspirations. Sylvia’s niece, Shanell, has already carved a name for herself under the moniker Lady Luck. According to her Bravo bio, she signed a multi-million dollar record deal with Def Jam at 16, and has since been certified as a triple RIAA gold and platinum artist. More recently, she teamed with her girlfriend — Love and Hip Hop New York’s Somaya Reece — to launch a joint label and television/film production enterprise, which will put out her She God album and house other independent artists.
Darnell, too, has stardom in his sights. When he was younger, he partook in the popular Scream Tour alongside the likes of Bow Wow and Omarion. In 2010, he produced “Drip” for Lil Wayne and Young Joc. He eventually stepped back from the limelight to study audio engineering in Atlanta, but is now rebooting his career as a solo artist.
The rest of the Robinson clan is more involved with business and other entertainment ventures, but that doesn't cut them out of the running. Rhondo has big entrepreneurial dreams, and Antonio Jordan is fervently invested in providing for his daughters. Will LeA come out on top? Tune in to First Family of Hip Hop on Jan. 15 at 9 p.m. ET to see how things pan out.