Happy 44th Birthday, Hip-Hop!
On Aug. 11, 1973, hip-hop was born. In a small recreation room on 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx, New York, Clive Campbell—best known as DJ Kool Herc—threw what is widely considered the first hip-hop party alongside his sister, Cindy, for a back to school jam. According to the handwritten flyer, the Bronx bash ran from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. and charged the ladies 25 cents and 50 cents for “the fellas” at the door.
Lifting hard funk drums from old-school records à la James Brown to The Incredible Bongo Band, Herc would isolate the “breakbeats” or “breaks” while using a technique he called the “merry-go-round,” in which he switched from break to break at the height of the record. His friend, Coke La Rock, would also shout out the names of friends at the party over the thumping instrumentals.
Enter Afrika Bambataa, the Bronx-bred hip-hop godfather and Zulu Nation leader who began throwing block parties in 1976, solidifying its four elements—DJing, MCing, break dancing and painting graffiti. Other pioneers like Fab 5 Freddy and Grand Master Flash soon took hip-hop to other boroughs and eventually, the world.
In the past four decades, Herc’s style has paved the way for DJs and producers sampling throwback joints for tracks by some of music’s biggest artists across genres like JAY-Z, David Bowie, Kanye West among others. Today, Nielsen considers hip-hop/R&B the most consumed genre in the U.S.
In honor of hip-hop’s 44th birthday, jam out to these nostalgic playlists below.
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