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DJ Kool Herc

By Christine Obiamalu

DJ Kool Herc

Clive Campbell is a Jamaican native that moved to the Bronx and is widely credited as the originator of Hip Hop. In the early 1970s he hosted dance parties at his family’s apartment complex. 11th August 1973, his younger sister, Cindy Campbell, wanted to earn extra cash for back-to-school clothes and decided to have her older brother play music for the neighborhood, it was called the "Back to School Jam". Campbell began playing hard funk records of the sort typified by James Brown and began to isolate the instrumental portion of the record which emphasized the drum beat—the "break"—and switch from one break to another. Using the same two-turntable set-up of disco DJs, he used two copies of the same record to elongate the break. This breakbeat DJing, using funky drum solos, formed the basis of hip-hop music. He initially called the technique "the Merry-Go-Round," but it came to be called “breakbeat” deejaying, and its sound would spawn an entirely new culture. Herc also commandeered the mike to rally dancers with rhymed exhortations (calling dancers “break-boys” and “break girls,” or B-boys and b-girls), laying the groundwork for rapping. Busy at the turntables, he eventually turned the mike over to Coke La Rock, who will then be the first-ever Hip-Hop MC.


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