Happy Birthday, Hip-Hop! 1973 Till 2010 & Beyond
In 2002′s Brown Sugar, music journalist Sid Shaw (played by Sanaa Lathan) starts every interview with the question, “When did you fall in love with hip-hop?” The question made me sit back and pinpoint the exact moment in my own life, because make no mistake, hip-hop has shaped my identity more than anything else.
Today we celebrate hip-hop’s widely recognized bornday—August 11, 1973—the day Jamaican-born Clive “Kool Herc” Campbell DJ’ed one of his sister Cindy‘s parties in the rec room of 1520 Sedgwick Ave (an apartment building) in the Bronx. What made this particular party so special? The fact that Herc came up with the following:
Herc used two copies of the same record to focus on a short, heavily percussive, part in it: the “break”. Since this part of the record was the one the dancers liked best, Herc isolated and 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 of fury”. This innovation had its roots in what he called “The Merry-Go-Round”—a switching from break to break done at the height of the party.” [Wikipedia]
Herc’s turntable wizardry not only empowered the DJ’s role, but also dancers (later known as “breakdancers”) and eventually MCs (master of ceremonies). These talents, in addition to the budding sport of graffiti, were eventually grouped together as the original four elements of hip-hop.
And for the record, I fell in love with hip-hop thanks to Naughty By Nature, Salt N Pepa, and many others. Haven’t looked back since.