“First Family Of Hip Hop” Accused Of Stealing Songwriter’s Royalties
By Ryan Velez
Many have enjoyed watching the Robinson family manage the Sugar Hill Records label on the Bravo reality series, “First Family of Hip Hop,” but a Bossip article reports that the family is now being accused in federal court of stealing the money and work of another artist outright.
The accusation is coming from songwriter Venus Dodson, who has sued Sugar Hill Records and Joseph Robinson, one of the sons of Sylvia Robinson, co-founder of Sugar Hill Records, for what is described as “improperly obtaining” her income from a song that she wrote back in the 1970’s. In court papers, Dodson, who wrote the 1974 Al Goodman hit, “Girls,” says that Sugar Hill Records created fraudulent accounts in her name and had the checks mailed to a P.O. box in the company’s New Jersey hometown after she moved to the U.S. Virgin Islands in the 1980s. According to Dodson, she only found out about this when the IRS contacted her about back taxes on money she never received.
“I’m hurt that this had to happen,” Dodson told Bossip. “Why would someone do this to somebody? It’s very painful that someone went out of their way and did so much to manipulate you and your artistic license.” Dodson adds that the record company sold her publishing to another company, something that they had no right to do.
While Joseph Robinson has passed away, his brother Leland and his family currently run the label’s operations, and this is what is featured on the Bravo reality show, as well as their own personal lives. While Dodson’s initial case was thrown out, she has since filed an appeal. A federal judge will hear oral arguments on the case next week. To date, the lawyer for Sugar Hill Records and Robinson’s estate, James Cinque has yet to make a formal statement, as has the family spokesperson.
For Dodson, while she wants compensation for what happened to her in the past, she feels that the lost potential for her career can never be made back. “With that kind of money, I could have done so much more,” she said. “They took so much more than money. They took opportunities.”