Dj Kool Herc

Did you know that Clive Campbell, a Jamaican man born in 1955, is known as The Father of Hip Hop. Why not? Kool Herc immigrated to the Bronx when he was twelve years old in 1967. He spent much of his time in the weight room while attending Alfred E. Smith High School. His height and that fact led to him being called Hercules by his peers. His first gig as a deejay was at his sister’s birthday party. This was the beginning of an industry. 1520 Sedgwick Avenue. This is Herc’s home address and the location of his recreation room, where he would host many of his first parties as a DJ. Herc realized that he didn’t know which songs would keep people moving but was more interested in the song’s break section. The song would end at this point, and Herc would no longer sing. Hip hop would benefit greatly from his desire to preserve this moment for a longer time. Herc would buy two copies of the exact same record and put them on separate turntables. He would play the beat on one record, then switch to the other turntable to play the same song. He could rock any NY house by doing this repeatedly. It was an early form looping, which would have been made much easier by electronic sampling. He would search through crates to find the perfect beat for his parties. Because he only needed a portion of a song, it didn’t matter what kind of music. In 1973, he was hired at the Twilight Zone as a professional DJ. He wanted to go to the Hevalo but was not allowed. His fame grew. Herc was known for his loudest music and break beats. It was an incredible event when he held a party at one of the parks. It was also a noisy one. The crown was being contested by Afrika Bambaataa, and other DJ’s. Jazzy Jay from the Zulu Nation recalls a momentous encounter between Herc, Bam and other DJ’s. Herc had to be late setting up, and Bam played longer than he should. After Herc was done setting up, he jumped on the microphone and asked Bam to turn his system down. Bam’s crew were enthralled and told Bam to not do that. Herc shouted louder, “Yo Bambaataa,” and Bam’s crew began cursing Herc. Herc then put all of his system on the microphone and said, “Bambaataaa-baataa-baataa-baataa-baataa –turn your system down!” You couldn’t hear Bam’s set. The Zulu crew tried turning up the juice, but it proved futile. Everyone looked at them as though they should have listened to Kool Herc. In 1975, Herc began work at the Hevalo in Bronx. He was the one who coined the term “b-boy” (break boy), and was quoted as saying that he was the “oldest living b’boy.” When other DJs tried to get in on the action, Herc would wipe the labels from his records so that no one could steal his beats. Grandmaster Flash also had a story about Herc. In his glory days, Flash would visit the Hevalo to see Herc. But Herc would always make him embarrassed. Flash would be called out on the microphone and he would then just play the midrange. Herc would then say to Flash, “Flash must have highs in order for you to be a disc jockey.” They would then crank up the highs until they sounded like a firework through the crowd. He would then say, “And last but not least, Flash, you must possess…bass.” The whole crowd would shake when Herc’s bass arrived. Flash was so embarrassed that he left. After spinning the records for a while, Herc would have to stop talking to the crowd to get them moving. He needed someone to assist him and be the Master of Ceremonies. Coke La Rock was the first hip-hop MC to ever be born. Herc also rocked the Sparkle at 174th Street and Jerome Avenue in Bronx. This spot was before the Hilltop, 371 (DJ Hollywood’s spot), and Disco Fever. Herc’s career fell in 1977. Herc was left behind by Grandmaster Flash, Furious Five and Bambaataa’s diverse crews and their polished emcee style. His career was severely damaged after he was stabbed at his own party three times. In the film Beat Street, he played himself. In 1984, Kool Herc attended his last Old School party. He has most recently appeared on Terminator X’s “The Godfathers of Threat” and the Chemical Brothers’ album “Dig Your Own Hole.” Like Bambaataa, he also makes appearances in Europe and New York. He isn’t part of hip hop vocabulary for most people who listen to it nowadays (unfortunately), but Kool Herc is responsible for the underground New York sound that has become a global phenomenon. Kool Herc lives on… from

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