DJ Kool Herc Invents Hip-Hop: Wake-Up Video

Most genres of music have hazy origin stories that are usually composed of a handful of disparate incidents that string together to form a vague sort of evolutionary narrative. But hip-hop can track its beginnings to a single event -- an origin story more befitting a super hero. On this day in 1973, a woman threw a birthday party at her home on 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx, and she put her brother in charge of the music. It was at that party that Clive Campbell -- who would later become known by his nom de rap DJ Kool Herc -- would expose his first big audience to a whole new type of music that would later realign most of popular culture.

Born in Jamaica and inspired by DJs in Kingston, Herc noticed that people tended to like to dance during the spots in songs where the vocals would drop out, leaving little more than the drums and bass. Herc thought, "Why not give the people nothing but those parts?" He developed a two-turntable technique that he called "merry go round," which put a copy of the same record on each of the turntables and switched back and fourth between them to loop the best parts of the record. In essence, Herc invented the break beat, which became the foundation over which MCs would later spin their rhymes and tell their stories. The needle dropped on hip-hop and nothing was ever the same.

In fact, the term "hip-hop" was still several years away from first being coined. Still, it has saved a lot of lives over the years -- including Lupe Fiasco's.


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