Hip-hop music has become one of the most popular and influential musical genres of the past few decades, and it all started with a man named Clive Campbell, better known as Kool Herc. Kool Herc is widely recognized as one of the first turntable disc jockeys, or DJs, and his pioneering work laid the foundation for the hip-hop culture and music that we know today.
Kool Herc was born in Jamaica and moved to the Bronx, New York City, in the 1960s. He began DJing at local block parties and community events, and quickly developed a reputation for his innovative use of two turntables and a mixer to create a continuous loop of music. He also popularized the technique of "breakbeat" DJing, where he would isolate and repeat the percussion breaks of popular funk and soul songs, providing a rhythmic foundation for MCs to rap over.
Kool Herc's parties soon became the talk of the town, drawing crowds of thousands of people and launching a new cultural movement that would come to be known as hip-hop. His influence extended beyond his own DJing, as he also provided a platform for up-and-coming MCs to showcase their skills and helped to nurture the early hip-hop scene in the Bronx.
Kool Herc was known for playing a wide variety of records at his parties, but he had a particular fondness for funk, soul, and R&B records with strong, danceable beats. Some of the tracks he would play at his parties include:
- "Apache" by The Incredible Bongo Band
- "Funky Drummer" by James Brown
- "The Mexican" by Babe Ruth
- "Good Times" by Chic
- "Get Up and Dance" by Freedom
- "Soul Makossa" by Manu Dibango
- "Love Is the Message" by MFSB
- "Think (About It)" by Lyn Collins
- "Give It Up or Turnit a Loose" by James Brown
- "Blow Your Head" by Fred Wesley and The J.B.'s
Kool Herc's impact on hip-hop music and culture can be seen in the work of the many DJs who were inspired by his innovations. Grandmaster Flash, one of the most influential DJs of all time, is known for his pioneering work with the turntable and mixer, and is credited with developing many of the techniques that are now standard in hip-hop DJing. Afrika Bambaataa, another early hip-hop DJ and key figure in the development of the hip-hop culture, is known for his eclectic DJ sets that drew from a wide range of genres.
Kool Herc's own younger brother, Cindy Campbell, who DJed under the name "Charlie Chase," was also a prominent hip-hop DJ in his own right, and a member of the Cold Crush Brothers. DJ Hollywood, another early hip-hop DJ, was known for his high-energy party-rocking style, which helped to popularize the use of MCs and rapping in hip-hop music.
Together, these DJs and others who followed in their footsteps built upon Kool Herc's innovations and helped to shape the sound of hip-hop music and the role of the DJ in the culture. Today, hip-hop music continues to evolve and thrive, and Kool Herc's legacy lives on as one of the key figures who helped to create this vibrant and influential cultural movement.