On this day August 11th 46 years ago the #1 music genre was born. Like any genre of music, Hip-Hop has many root forms, and the evolution of it continues to be shaped by many monumental artists, but some still don’t how Hip-Hop itself came to be.
There’s a case to be made that the berth of Hip-Hop was precisely conceived on this day in 1973, at a birthday party in the recreation room of an apartment building on 120 Sedgwick Avenue, West Bronx, NYC. The man who would be spinning the turntables at that historic party was the birthday girl’s brother, Clive Campbell-better known as DJ Kool Herc, founding father of hip-hop.
Born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica till the age of 10, DJ Kool Herc began spinning records at parties during his teenage years in the Bronx during the early 1970s between sets his father’s band played. Herc would often bite the style of Jamaican “selectors” (DJs) by “toasting” (talking) over the records he spun, but his historical contribution has nothing to do with rapping but was more fundamental.
DJ Kool Herc’s observation of how the crowds moved and react to the different parts of the beat when a record would play would be his signature observation: “I was noticing people used to wait for particular parts of the record to dance, maybe [to] do their specialty move.” These moments would occur at the drum breaks which is the moments in a record when the vocals and other instruments would drop out completely for a measure or two of pure rhythm. Kool Herc’s creative decision to use two turntables in a typical DJ setup to be able to repeatedly switch back and forth between two copies of the same record, giving the ability to extend the short drum break that the crowd most wanted to hear. The Merry Go-Round is what he called it but it’s better known today as “break beat”.
DJ Kool Herc had been using and refining his break-beat style for the better part of the year of 1973. His sister’s party during that Summer on August 11, however, He DJ’ed his biggest crowd ever and with the most powerful sound system he’d ever worked on. The success of that party that would be a blueprint into the sound of hip-hop and the grassroots evolution of the genre, fully six years before the term even entered the popular vocabulary.
46 years of Hip-Hop and only till recently has it become the #1 genre of music. The genre hasn’t lived long but is already so influential to the culture today as we have grown with the genre’s evolution. I think Lupe Fiasco said it best over a year ago what Hip-Hop is on Instagram during the genres 45th birthday
“ years of this thing we do called hip-hop
Innovation. Guerrilla Warfare, Cultural Production, Sonic Liberation, Global Impact, Economic Force. Authority & Power. Linguistic Elegance. Spiritual Command, Champion Sound. Youthful Imagination. Equal Opportunity Employer, Unfiltered Truth, School of Hard Knocks, Provider, Guide For The Lost, Dangerous Comforts, Heartbeat of Ghetto America. Art & Service.
Knowledge & Movement”
For the most part, we’ve seen Hip-Hop go from just the Merry Go-Round to the boom-bap rap of the ’80s, to gangsta and R&B-infused soulful hip-hop of the ’90s and 2000s, to now this latest era of Trap music being the prominent sound.
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I love Hip-Hop I love my culture that keeps it alive in this day in age where “Vibrations” are important it’s what literally moves us, keep us together, there for us in our deepest darkest times and celebrated in our light of happiness.
Thank you DJ Kool Herc who knew your innovation would touch so many people around the world and grow into a global impact but this is what Hip-Hop is and always will be!!!!