Hip Hop Turns 40 years old !! (8/11/1973- 8/11/2014 )

Source: Martha Cooper

Source: Martha Cooper


On August 11,1973, 6 years before it even attained the very name it’s recognized by today, Hip Hop was born! In it’s humble beginnings, Hip Hop started out as a pass time hobby for a young NYC DJ, Clive Campbell aka DJ Kool Herc.

Clive was born to Keith and Nettie Campbell in Kingston, Jamaica. Keith, a band member, often exposed a young Clive to their native music “Reggae”.  At the age of 12 Clive’s family moved to the Bronx, New York in November of 1967. Upon arriving to the already impoverished neighborhood, Clive waisted no time merging with street gang culture that was prevalent at that time due to social injustices,poverty and lack of local resources.
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While in high school, Clive known for his athletic stature and speed on the basketball court, garnished the name “Hercules” from his peers. Eventually he began running with a local graffiti gang called EX-VANDALS , renaming himself as “KOOL HERC”.  Although athletically fit to pursue a future in sports, Herc’s passion was in music. He recalls persuading his father to buy him vinyl records that were not easily attained by the other kids in his impoverished neighborhood, and he would play them for his friends. Shortly after that, Herc’s new calling was clear. He was to become a DJ (disc jockey) providing the entertainment (music) for the restless youth shunned by society. DJ Kool Herc and his sister Cindy began throwing parties in the community room of there housing apartments at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue. As his popularity grew, so did his crowd. Armed with two turntables, a mic and a few records,  DJ Kool Herc was known to keep the party going by “juggling” songs between both turntables without interrupting the monotony or the “Groove” of the record.


With limited records, but determined to “keep the party going”  DJ Kool Herc began singling out  the distinctive parts in the record, “The Beat Break“,  a short, heavily percussive section of the song minus the vocals. Since this part of the record was the one the dancers would prefer, Herc isolated, changed to the other, and later, prolonged it. As one record reached the end of the break, he cued the other record back to the beginning of the break, thereby extending a relatively small part of a record into a five-minute loop, allowing the MC (Master of Ceremonies) ample amount of time to encourage the partygoers to dance and chant in unison over popular records rarely heard anywhere else in their community.


Fast forward to that faithful day (August 11,1973 ) when DJ Kool Herc would be responsible for fathering a culture that would arguably become one of the fastest  and most influential growing cultures in American history. The location of that birthplace was non other than 1520 Sedgwick Avenue, (community room) and the occasion was his younger sister’s (Cindy) birthday.

Already known for throwing some of the neighborhoods best parties, the Founding Father of Hip Hop would perform his renowned routine in front of his biggest crowd yet that Saturday night. Before long, word about DJ Kool Herc began to spread to near by neighborhoods in the Bronx as well as the other four Boroughs on NYC, heralding the beginning of a culture that belonged to those who had no voice or place in the drastically impoverished and racially segregated city. What was to become “Hip Hop” would later serve as an outlet for those who struggled with social inequality. DJ Kool Herc would eventually expand his brand to become “The Herculoids” which included Coke (Scott) La Rock, DJ Clark Kent and the “Nigga Twins”.


Over the next few decades, DJ Kool Herc would be heavily involved in the evolution of his creation including aiding in the induction of Hip Hop into the Smithsonian Institution Museum  in 2006.  In 2007, New York state officials declared 1520 Sedgwick Avenue the “birthplace of hip-hop”, and nominated it to national and state historic registers.The Department of City Housing Preservation and Development ruled against the proposed sale in February 2008.

In 2011 DJ Kool Herc fell extremely ill due to kidney stones. Lacking the proper healthcare, he sought help from the same community he once help build, garnishing an outpour of support from rappers and Hip Hop lovers alike.  In April 2013, Campbell recovered from surgery and is now doing well. DJ Kool Herc and his family have since then set up an official website on which donations can be offered to Hip Hop’s Patriarch and Founding Father, Clive Campbell.




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