Father of Hip-Hop
For his sister Cindy's party in a Bronx housing-complex rec
room, Clive Campbell, better known by his graffiti tag, Kool
Herc, wanted to do something special. He bought the hottest
records and hooked up two turntables so that, with the same
record spinning on each, he could isolate and prolong the "breaks"
-- the percussive instrumental sections that whipped the dancers
into a frenzy. He would cue one record back to the start of
the break, while the other ran to the end of it, a perpetual-motion
machine of propulsive beats.
incited the dancers by calling out their names -- the sort of
rhythmic patter that would eventually be set to rhymes and taken
up by MCs, or rappers. Rival Bronx DJs Grandmaster Flash and
Afrika Bambaataa soon adapted and developed Herc's techniques.
Incredibly, from such modest beginnings was a cultural revolution
born. Now, at the end of the 20th century, hip-hop stands as
the predominant sound and style of our times -- its beats heard
in glossy commercials and inner-city parks, its fashions seen
on the backs of bike messengers and supermodels.
lives in the Bronx and still DJs, but feels he has never received
his due. "I made something from nothing, a culture for
the kids, and now it's a multimillion-dollar business worldwide,"
Herc says. "None of those dollars came back to me.... But
I'm still here. Like my man Elton John says, 'I'm still standing.'"