Where did hip hop originate? What is the origin of rap in the world? How many types of hip hop are there? What is the difference between rap and trap? Welcome to Hip Hop Origin. Today, with Kool Herc, one of the creators of hip-hop.
At Postposmo, in addition to being interested in hip hop news, we are passionate about its history. For this reason, and taking advantage of the fact that Netflix currently has the best hip hop documentary that anyone has ever made, we started Hip Hop Origin: a series of articles dedicated to the musical genre par excellence this 2020. rap today is mainstream thanks to artists like Drake, Eminem or Post Malone. But it was not always like this. What path has been traveled to make hip hop a mass phenomenon? Join us at Hip Hop Origin for a tour of the best moments of the documentary Hip hop evolution from Netflix.
How was rap born? Origins of hip hop: Bronx
Hip hop as a response to the hegemony of disco music
Kurtis Blow, well known for being one of the pioneers of the genre with his mythical (and impossible not to dance) the breaks, is the first of the very long list of testimonies with which Hip hop evolution explains the long road that rap has followed since its birth to become the dominant genre that it is today. In this sense, the role of Kool Herc was fundamental.
To understand the origins of hip hop, you have to go back to New York in the early 70s, the golden age of funk music. “Disco music arrived and it was an explosion. Everyone wore their best silk and fur clothes to the club. Everybody was crazy disco«, Comments Kurtis Blow. This disco hegemony is essential to understand how the hip hop movement was born. In other words, hip hop was born as a response to the predominance of disco music in New York.
“CEOs, athletes, people from the entertainment world, anyone who was considered a celebrity was there. People's perception was like “wow, look at the coats, the Roll Royces, the champagne, the diamonds, the sex, all the money… People in the world thought that New York was paradise. But back then the Bronx was burning."
"I grew up in the Bronx in the '60s, and it was like Beirut. In certain places in the Bronx... I mean, when they said the Bronx was burning, it's because the Bronx was burning."
Kool Herc and the first hip hop party in history
It was in the middle of this continuous fire that was the Bronx that what the documentary considers "the first hip hop party in history" arose: the DJ party of Kool Herc. Thus, we must mark August 11, 1973 as the day hip hop was born, in a flat at 1520 Sedgick Ave in New York. "This is where it all started, the big-bang," says Kool Herc himself in the documentary. "I remember putting my head inside the speaker and feeling how all the music was transmitted throughout my body," he recalls. Kurtis Blow, to later call Kool Herc "revolutionary"
"Herc didn't want to play disco music. He wanted to give us soul; the music we had grown up with. And it was amazing, because in the disco world, all of a sudden here we had this guy playing funk."
Some of the soul artists who influenced Kool Herc
- JamesBrown, Say it loud, I'm black and proud
- The Jimmy Castor Bunch
- The Incredible Bongo Band, bongo rock
- Dennis Coffey and the Detroit Guitar Band, Evolution
- James Brown, Ain't It Funky
- Babe Ruth, first base
- The Baby Huey Story, The living legend
"It was wonderful. We were listening to the best songs we had ever heard, and it was not possible to hear them on the radio. The radio didn't play those songs. You didn't hear them anywhere. We are talking about records taken from the sacred boxes of hip hop, "he says. Grand Mixer DXT.
Wouldn't it be wonderful to have a list of the songs played that night? We thought, and rapper Shad, presenter of the documentary, must have thought. Asking Kool Herc to his face, he laughs and replies flatly, "That's one of the things I never do: reveal my track list. If I do, why would people still want to come to my party?”1
Breaking the beat and origin of the B-boys
What makes this Kool Herc DJ Party considered the first hip hop party in history? In the opinion of Dan Charnas, author of The Big Payback, the key is in the selection of the songs and in the way of playing them: «He plays only the sections with break moments, when all the instruments disappear and we only hear the drums or the drums and the bass»
«That was fundamental for the birth of hip hop; music with a special part, a break. Every song [Kool Herc] played had this breakup part where the drummer would do his thing." - Kurtis Blow
"Herc came up with the idea that he could extend that breakup moment by using two mixers and practically create a new song," says Kevin Powell, writer and activist. "I've never seen anyone with two copies of the same vinyl and keep going back to the bit where we would normally pick up the needle and have a second of silence. Now this was continuous, and he called it the merry-go-round, says Grand Mixer DXT.
While we attend this very interesting revelation, the documentary shows us an assorted repertoire of African-American boys dancing on the floor. The selection of the clips is not accidental. Back then, not many people stopped to think that the boys who danced to those songs were called breakdancers precisely because they danced those pieces of break (break, break). This is how the B-Boy terminology was born. If we stop to think about it, it is likely that most people who know the word do not know what its origin is.
First Master of ceremonies (MC)
Next to Kool Herc was Coke LaRock, whom the documentary identifies as the first master of ceremonies in the history of hip hop. At first, La Rock says, he was basically mentioning people's names and saying things like "Hey, Reggie, go out and move-see the car you've got it do-do-double-parked. And when Reggie comes back, the girls are like 'ah, but do you have a car?' this kind of thing, you know? After that things did not stop and only got better: we had 50, then 100, then 500 people.
"Everyone was on our side: the murderers, the thieves, the dancers, the regulars at parties," says La Rock, who basically wasn't there to grab the microphone but to sell marijuana. Also in this field he noticed important improvements, she confesses with a laugh.
As long as the music is not stopping
the rocks are dropping
the champagne is flowing
the freaks will be going
Hotel, motel, you don't tell, we don't tell
"There's not a disco that Kool Herc and Coke La Rock can't rock," says La Rock proudly before finishing his speech.
I had no idea what he and Kool Herc they had created. They had no idea what was coming their way.
In the next chapter of Hip Hop Origin: the arrival of Hurricane Baambaata