Happy 47th Birthday Hip Hop!

A few major life changes and COVID-19 have kept me away from the blog a lot longer than I anticipated. But I’m back. And what better way to mark my return than to celebrate the birth of my first love? So here’s to wishing a happy 47th birthday to hip hop.

It All Started In The Bronx

On August 11, 1973 DJ Kool Herc hosted a “back to school jam” for his little sister in the rec room of their apartment building. It’s been rumored that his sister asked him to play music for the neighborhood and charge a fee to help her buy school clothes. He did, and the rest is history.

His unique style of spinning records was unprecedented at that time. He discovered that he could isolate the instrumental portion of the record which emphasized the drum beat (the break) and switch from one break to another. Kool Herc used the same two-turntable set-up of disco Dj’s and two copies of the same record to elongate the break.

And Hip Hop Was Born

Kool Herc would make announcements and shout out the dancers as he spun. He called the dancers “break boys” and “break girls”. But his rhythmically syncopated announcements on top of the break is what we now call “rap”.

The B-boys and B-girls style of dance would be later referred to as breakdancing. Three of the 5 elements of hip hop were born right on Sedgwick Avenue and we owe it all to Kool Herc.

His contribution to the genre is so profound that in 2007 his old building was made a historical landmark. Check out the documentary below for a brief history:

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