Tag Archives: Rap

DJ Kool Herc – The Father of Hip Hop: How It All Started

29 Jul Kool Herc - The Father of Hip Hop

Kool Herc – The Father of Hip Hop

Clive Campbell, AKA “Kool Herc”, is considered to be the Father of Hip Hop.  Clive Campbell, was born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1955.  In 1967, when Kool Herc was 12 years, he and his family emigrated to the Bronx, New York.  While attending Alfred E. Smith High School, he spent a lot of time in the weight room.  That fact, coupled with his height , coined him the nickname “Hercules” by his schoolmates.

Kool Herc’s first deejay job was his sister’s birthday.  1520 Sedgwick Avenue.  This was the address  where he and his family lived, and the recreation room in the building was where he would throw many of his first parties as a DJ.  Unbeknownst to him at the time, this would be the start of the hip hop music industry.

The Birthplace of Hip Hop

Kool Herc would deejay many parties in the recreation room of this building where he lived.

Throwing parties at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue lasted for a while until his parents started to come in early, and find a house full of kids, tearing up the new furniture that his mother had just put some money down on. The kids were still looking for a place to release this energy.’ Herc’s sister asked him to help out by playing music in the recreation room of his family’s housing block, 1520 Sedgewick Towers.  ”OK, I throw my hand at it, and she rented the recreation room, I think for twenty-five dollars at the time. We could charge it at twenty-five cents for girls, fifty cents for fellas. It was like, “Kool Herc, man. He’s giving a party, westside man. Just be cool, that’s what I’m saying, come and have a good time. Just don’t ditch the programme.”

Becoming skilled at deejaying, Kool Herc became aware that although he knew which records would keep the crowd moving, he was more interested in the break section of the song.  At this point in a song, the vocals would stop and the beat would just ride for a short period.  His desire to capture this moment for a longer period of time would be a very important one for Hip Hop.

To extend the break section of a song, Herc would purchase two copies of the same record and play them on separate turntables next to each other.  He would play the break beat on one record then throw it over to the other turntable and play the same part.  Doing this over and over, he could rock any house in New York–not to mention it being an early form of looping that would later be made easier through electronic sampling.  Herc would dig in crates and look everywhere to find the perfect break beat for his parties.  He didn’t care what type of music it was because he only needed a small section of a song for his purposes.

By 1969, Herc was deejaying regularly at local clubs, but noticed that the crowds he joined frequently objected to New York’s  cocky DJs. ‘I used to hear the gripes from the audience on the dancefloor. Even myself, ’cause I used to be a breaker (breakdancer). Why didn’t the guy let the record play out? Or why cut it off there? So with that, me gathering all this information around me, I say: “I think I could do that”. So I started playing from a dance floor perspective. I always kept up the attitude that I’m not playing it for myself, I’m playing for the people out there.’

DJs needed to establish an identity or niche in this highly competitive market. So Herc was determined to find records that no one else owned, to distinguish himself from the pack. For example, he talked his father into buying him James Brown’s Sex Machine LP in 1969. ‘A lot of people wanted that record and couldn’t really find it. So a lot of people used to come to the party to hear that.’ Herc did his research, checking out what was being played on local jukeboxes to test a song’s popularity and picking up rarities at Downstairs Records on 42nd Street and the Rhythm Den. ‘This is where your recognition, your rep comes from. You have a record nobody else got, or you’re the first one to have it. You’ve got to be the first, can’t be the second.’

While violence has become rap’s defining characteristic in the 90s, hip hop actually started out as a means of ending black-on-black crime two decades earlier.  People living in the Bronx during the early 70s had much to live in fear of. ‘The gangs came and terrorized the whole neighborhood, the boroughs. Everybody just ran back into their house. There was no more clubs. If you did do a house party, it had to be: “I have to know you. Don’t bring nobody who I don’t know to my house.”

In the following video, Kool Herc describes how he invented the idea of playing two breakbeats together, what he calls the merry-go-round.   The merry-go-round involved him mixing sections of James Brown’s ‘Give It Up Or Turn It Loose’ into Michael Viner’s ‘Bongo Rock’ and back out into Babe Ruth’s ‘The Mexican’. His audiences loved it.

The merry-go-round became the blueprint for hip hop… The first to react to the innovations, naturally enough, were Herc’s party-goers. Breakdancers, or B-Boys, began to interpret Herc’s idiosyncratic style with routines of their own. Some historians trace the development of Breakdancing to the African martial arts form, capoeta, brought to America by slaves a century before.

His first professional DJ job was at the Twilight Zone in 1973.  He wanted to get into another place called the Hevalo, but wasn’t allowed to at the time. His fame grew.  In addition to his break beats, Herc also became known as the man with the loudest system around.  When he decided to hold a party in one of the parks, it was a crazy event.  And a loud one.  At this time Afrika Bambaataa and other competing DJ’s began trying to take Herc’s crown.  Jazzy Jay of the Zulu Nation recalls one momentous meeting between Herc and Bam.

“Herc was late setting up and Bam continued to play longer than he should have.  Once Herc was set up he got on the microphone and said “Bambaataa, could you please turn your system down?”  Bam’s crew was pumped and told Bam not to do it.  So Herc said louder, “Yo, Bambaataa, turn your system down-down-down.”  Bam’s crew started cursing Herc until Herc put the full weight of his system up and said, “Bambaataa-baataa -baataa, TURN YOUR SYSTEM DOWN!” And you couldn’t even hear Bam’s set at all.  The Zulu crew tried to turn up the juice but it was no use.  Everybody just looked at them like, “You should’ve listened to Kool Herc.”

Finally his fame peaked and at last, in 1975, he began working at the Hevalo in the Bronx.  He helped coin the phrase b-boy (break boy) and was recently quoted as saying he was “the oldest living b-boy.”

Eventually, spinning records became an an all-intensive thing and Herc

Kool Herc and Coke La Rock

realized he didn’t have as much time to talk to the crowd and get them going.  He needed someone else to help out and act as the Master of Ceremonies for him.  And thus, for all practical purposes, Coke La Rock became the first hip hop MC ever.

Although he is not part of the hip hop vocabulary of most of those who listen to it today, Kool Herc is the father of this underground sound from New York that has found its way in becoming a worldwide phenomenon.

One Teacher, His Students and Hip Hop

22 Jun

A day in a classroom with a Teachers and Students who discuss Old School Hip Hop n R&B

As a teacher, I am always looking for ways to connect and / or relate to my students. There are a few topics that almost always break generation gaps. In my opinion, the two topics are sports and music. Ask 100 students to talk about sports and you will get dozens upon dozens of different answers. The replies will range from a favorite player to a preferred position on a team. However, a large percentage of students will reply that they don’t like sports. Ask 100 students if they like music and you will get 99 or 100 positive replies.

Today, I stumbled upon an awesome website to use in my classroom. On http://nocursingmusic.com, you will find exactly what you would expect on a website titled “No Cursing Music.” DJ Doc provides visitors to his website over 40 hours of mixed old school Rap, Hip Hop and R&B music. One hundred percent of the tracts are without any cursing or profanity. From my online searches, this is the only website where you can listen to this many tracks for free. Visitors are able to select tracks from three options. DJ Doc has carefully uploaded 36 one hour tracks and 4 half hour mixes.

There are countless current Rap, Hip Hop and R&B artists saying that these “Old School” artists provided them inspiration. As a teacher, I can play one of these clips and then introduce the “Old School” tracks. With a blessing from current artists, these tracks will be heard with open ears. As a teacher, I’m on a limited budget. There is not any other place online to listen to these tracks with no charge. As a parent, this website has me excited to share my roots with my daughter.

You seriously won’t ever go back to Youtube after you stop by No Cursing Music. This is the only website to offer fans zero talking and zero profanity recordings for Rap, Hip Hop and R&B. This website isn’t only teacher friendly but it is parent friendly. You can listen to these tracks with your children. There is nothing more powerful than providing your children different experiences as they develop and grow.

The final reason that I fell in love with No Cursing Music and DJ Doc is that I can jump on the website at anytime. Due to the nature of DJ Doc’s website, is that it is “always on.” Visitors can use their smart phones, laptops, desktops, iPhones, Kindles or any other device that can access the Internet. You can jump on from home, at work or any place with WiFi access. DJ Doc took the all of the cursing out of the tracks. Thus, the website will not be blocked even by the strictest Internet filters. Please don’t take my word for how awesome No Cursing Music is! Head on over to http://nocursingmusic.com right now!

Chris Smith, MEd.
Middle School Teacher

The Birth of Hip Hop

25 May

The birth of Rap is sometimes attributed to the righteous street poetry of the Last Poets and the Watts Prophets, but it didn’t begin to take full shape — and earn its tag — until after the Sugarhill Gang released “Rapper’s Delight” in 1979. Since then, rap spread from its New York epicenter throughout the remainder of the U.S. (with each region taking on its own specific flavor) and then to countless countries.

The most successful rap acts where groups like Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five, Kurtis Blow and Whodini, wore outlandish, glam rock inspired outfits on stage, while their music sampled disco and funk. Run DMC’s successful merging of heavy metal riffs and hip hop beats and street-inspired style brought rap music and hip hop culture to the mainstream.

Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five

Rap music was formed during the 1970s when block parties became increasingly popular in New York City, particularly among African American and Latino youth residing in the Bronx.  Block parties incorporated DJs who played popular genres of music, especially funk and soul music. Due to the positive reception, DJs began isolating the percussion breaks of popular songs. This technique was then common in Jamaican dub music.  Because the percussive breaks in funk, soul and disco records were generally short, DJ Kool Herc and other DJs began using such techniques with two turntables to extend the breaks.

Hip hop music eventually emerged out of rap as party DJs  made improvisations to existing music. Although hip hop music predates the introduction of rapping into hip hop culture, the majority of the genre is accompanied by rap vocals.

Turntablist techniques, such as scratching (attributed to Grand Wizzard Theodore), beat mixing/matching, and beat juggling eventually developed along with the breaks, creating a base that could be rapped over, in a manner similar to signifying, as well as the art of toasting, another influence found in Jamaican dub music.

Rap and Hip Hop’s core components are beats and rhymes, but that simplicity belies the wide range of sounds that have sprung from them. Instrumentalists, a sampled breakbeat, or a drum machine can form the backbone of a track, while an arrangement can be spaciously spare or chaotically dense, and a

LL Cool J is considered to have the greatest longevity in Rap music. His career as a rapper spans more than two decades — beginning during the early stages of rap and surviving through the emergence of hip hop music.

chorus,  can range from atonal shouting to a sweet melody. Detractors were still calling rap a fad in 1985, when LL Cool J released his first single. They were doing the same thing when, roughly 20 years later, he released his tenth album, and they’ll probably continue to do so as long as the genre exists. Should rap ever die, which isn’t likely, it would be far too late to prevent its effect on most other music forms, from R&B to rock to jazz.

Since hip-hop’s emergence in the 1970s, the movement has fostered a cultural climate of harmony and good music for everyone. From the early days of B-Boys and break dancing to the modern era of big jewelry and even bigger rhymes, hip-hop has been able to transcend generations and color boundaries despite initial dismissals as a fad.

All About Hip Hop

23 May

Kurtis Blow, The Sugarhill Gang, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Whodini and others are considered to be the pioneers of rap and hip hop music.

1520 Sedgwick Avenue, the Bronx — the avenue used by Kool Herc is often considered the birthplace of hip hop.  DJ Kool Herc and Coke La Rock provided an influence on the vocal style of rapping by delivering simple poetry verses over funk music breaks, after party-goers showed little interest in their previous attempts to integrate reggae-infused toasting into musical sets.  DJs and MCs would often add call and response chants, often consisting of a basic chorus, to allow the performer to gather his thoughts (e.g. “one, two, three, y’all, to the beat”).

Rap group Run DMC had a huge impact on hip hop

Rapping, also referred to as MCing or emceeing, is a vocal style in which the artist speaks lyrically, in rhyme and verse, generally to an instrumental or synthesized beat. Beats, almost always in 4/4 time signature, can be created by sampling and/or sequencing portions of other songs by a producer.   They also incorporate synthesizers, drum machines, and live bands. Rappers may write, memorize, or improvise their lyrics and perform their works a cappella or to a beat.

The roots of spoken hip hop music are found in African-American music and ultimately African music, particularly that of the griots of West African culture.  The African-American traditions of signifyin’, the dozens, and jazz poetry all influence hip hop music, as well as the call and response patterns of African and African-American religious ceremonies.

Emerging out of Rap, Hip hop music came about as party DJs made improvisations to existing music.   Turntable techniques, such as scratching, beat mixing/matching, and beat juggling eventually developed along with the breaks, creating a base that could be rapped over, in a manner similar to signifying, as well as the art of toasting, which is prevalent in Jamaican dub music.  Although hip hop music predates the introduction of rapping into hip hop culture, the majority of the genre is accompanied by rap vocals.

DJs Mixing

Later, the MCs grew more varied in their vocal and rhythmic delivery, incorporating brief rhymes, often with a sexual or scatological theme, in an effort to differentiate themselves and to entertain the audience. These early raps incorporated the dozens, a product of African American culture. Kool Herc & the Herculoids were the first hip hop group to gain recognition in New York, but the number of MC teams increased over time.

Rhythm and Blues (R&B) singer and ”Godfather of Soul”,  James Brown, and musical ‘comedy’ acts such as Rudy Ray Moore and Blowfly are often considered “godfathers” of hip hop music.

Rhythm & Blues: The Mother of Hip Hop

23 May

R&B, which stands for Rhythm and Blues, was the greatest influence on music around the world for most of the second half of the 20th century.  Rhythm and Blues is a term with a broad sense, but typically recognizing black-pop music. This type of music was introduced to the world by artists’ combining the music styles of jazz and blues.

R&B is actually what was later developed into what we know as rock and roll. The term Rhythm and Blues was used as a synonym for Black Rock and Roll in the 1950s. This influence is evident in forms of Rock Music, Country and Western, Gospel music, Jazz and also in Non-Western forms of music. Rhythm and Blues music also embraces genres such as Jump Blues, Club Blues, Black Rock and Roll, Soul, Motown, Funk, Disco and Rap.

The Drifters

Evolving out of jump blues in the late ’40s, R&B laid the groundwork for rock & roll.   It kept the tempo and the drive of jump blues, but its instrumentation was sparer and the emphasis was on the song, not improvisation. R&B was was basically blues chord changes played with an insistent backbeat. During the ’50s, the genre was dominated by vocalists like Ray Charles and Ruth Brown, as well as vocal groups like the Drifters and the Coasters. Eventually, R&B metamorphosed into soul, which was funkier and looser than the pile-driving rhythms of R&B. Soul came to describe a number of R&B-based music styles.  From the bouncy, catchy acts at Motown to the horn-driven, gritty soul of Stax/Volt, there was an immense amount of diversity within soul.

During the first part of the ’60s, soul music remained close to its R&B roots. However, musicians pushed the music in different directions, and different regions of America produced different kinds of soul. In urban centers like New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago, the music concentrated on vocal interplay

The Jackson 5

and smooth productions. In Detroit, Motown concentrated on creating a pop-oriented sound that was informed equally by gospel, R&B, and rock & roll. In the South, the music became harder and tougher, relying on syncopated rhythms, raw vocals, and blaring horns. All of these styles formed soul, which ruled the black music charts throughout the ’60s and also frequently crossed over into the pop charts.

During the ’60s and ’70s, soul began to splinter apart.  Artists like James Brown and Sly Stone developed funk; Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff initiated Philly

James Brown – The “Godfather of Soul”

soul with the O’Jays and Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes; and later in the decade, danceable R&B became a mass phenomenon with the brief disco fad.

In the 1970s, the term R&B was being used to describe soul and funk music styles, which today we know it describes Rhythm and Blues. Along with being influenced by jazz and blues, R&B also had influences from gospel and disco music. Disco’s downturn in the 1980s opened the door for R&B to truly take-off in popularity.

In the early 1970s, the cultural movement of hip hop music was born. Hip hop’s fast paced music style is made of two parts; the rhythmic delivery of rap and the use of instrumentation by a DJ. Hip hop music also brought with it a fashion of its own.  The fashion helped to represent and advance this newly created music.

Hip hop music has its roots from West African music and African-American music. The first rap song to be put onto a vinyl record was, “Rapper’s Delight”, a song by The Sugarhill Gang back in the 1970s. This is when block parties started becoming the norm in New York City, which gave hip hop and rap the chance to explode in popularity. Hip hop’s instrumentation came from funk, R&B, and disco, when combined together make this dynamic type of music. When the DJs at these block parties learned what the people liked, they began mixing these vinyl records and created music that played continuously with amazing transitions between songs.

Kurtis Blow

Hip hop was actually created by a DJ named Kool Herc, a Jamaican that had moved to the United States with a style that consisted of mixing music by using two copies of the same record. Many of the poor Jamaican’s in the town could not afford vinyl records, so huge stereo systems were set up so that many could hear the rhythmic beats. These stereo systems were the kick-off for the beginning of the evolution of block parties. So with the musical talent of these amazing DJs, with the use of vinyl record mixing, the culture of hip hop and rap music was born.

During the ’80s and ’90s, the polished, less earthy sound of urban and quiet

Sugarhill Gang

storm ruled the airwaves, but even then, R&B began adding stylistic components of hip-hop until — by the end of the millennium — there were hundreds of artists who featured both rapping and singing on their records.

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