The Beginnings of Hip Hop: Part 1 of 3 - DJ Kool Herc & 1950 Sedgwick Avenue

Published on 30 May 2022 at 16:32

Clive Campbell aka DJ Kool Herc is accredited with being the founding father of one of the best modern music genres, Hip Hop. He started off as a tagging artist and then moved on up to tearin' up the turntables. The first gig that really got him notoriety was a back-to-school party that was hosted by his sister and he was the DJ (on August 11th 1973 at 1950 Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx). Herc was already known because of his tagging and this made the party a huge success as far as the turnout. People came just to see him.

Herc really learned how to rock a party by watching people dance. He noticed that often times people would wait for certain sections of a song to dance, so he took those sections and re-played them over and over again by using two turntables with two copies of a record to keep those sections going. This is what defined the term "breakbeats". Herc also kept the party going by making show-outs to the crowd like, "Rock on my mellow," lines like this kept the dancers moving.

Eventually, Herc started getting better at mixing songs together and it became harder for him to make shout-outs because he was paying more attention to what he was doing, this was how the emcees were born. Herc employed Coke La Rock and Clark Kent to aid in his show productions, later to be called the Herculoids. Coke La Rock expanded his shout-outs to be full on poems and that gave way to the birth of rapping. The emcees also took part in dancing to further the good vibes on the dance floor and sometimes even Kool Herc did as well.

As the days had gone by, more people got inspired to become DJs so talent like, Afrika Bambaataa and Grandmaster Flash started to hit the scene. These two guys are seen as the godfathers of Hip Hop. Bambaataa was a DJ that was part of a street gang called the Black Spades, he saw first-hand what the violence and drugs did to a community so he created Zulu Nation to combat this problem by bringing positive vibes through music.

Grandmaster Flash was inspired by his father's music collection and used his knowledge of electronics to make many contributions to the world of hip hop:

Punch phrasing- this added hits that accented the music for higher energy for the MCs and the dancers.

Scratching- this added a soloing type method for the DJs so they can add more personality to the music by moving a record back and forth.

Beatbox- for a DJ beatboxing is different than the human vocalized beat box done by such artists as the Fat Boys, Biz Markie (RIP), and Doug E. Fresh. The Grandmaster used an electronic drum machine to add an element to the music that kept the party going because you couldn't tell when the song ended and until he came in.

These three DJs were really the first pioneers of Hip Hop, them and other pioneers carried Hip Hop through house and street parties through out the 80s. When the first Hip Hop recordings hit music stores, it moved Hip Hop to larger venues and people's homes. The very first hip hop radio show was called Mr. Magic's "Rap Attack" which played in New York on WBLS-FM in 1983. After a while, MCs started to become more prominent replacing the DJs as the front man.





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