The History of Hip Hop

Today, Hip Hop music is one of the most popular genres, loved by young and old alike. Have you ever wondered how it started? Well, it’s quite a tale. Keep reading to discover what we learned. The Hip Hop music genre, sometimes called rap, hasn’t been around that long. Yet, its popularity grew fast due to technology and the internet, giving it worldwide exposure.

Party in the Bronx

A young lady from the Bronx planned a back to school party for her friends. The party went off at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue, Bronx, New York in the recreation room of an apartment building. Like most teenagers, Cindy wanted to throw a party to remember. She had an advantage over other party-throwers at that time, her brother Clive Campbell, who called himself DJ Kool Herc.

During the party on August 11, 1973, DJ Kool Herc decided to extend one of the rhythm back beats during a song so that the kids could dance longer. He noticed that it was during these extended beat breaks that most people liked to dance, often pulling off their “special moves.”

On that day, it was James Brown’s song, “Give it Up or Turn it a Loose” that was playing. As he kept the beat break going, Clive began rapping over the beat he was scratching. This was the moment that Hip Hop was born, six years before the name, “hip hop” even caught on. The term for the popular dance genre from the 90s, “break dancing,” comes from this concept too.

Jamaican and African Influence

The Campbell family was originally from Kingston, Jamaica. Kingston is the capital of Jamaica, the largest city, located on the southeastern side of the island. Clive spent most of his younger days there, coming to America at the age of 10. Music was naturally in his blood, his father Keith played in a band too.

Clive got his start by spinning records during their set breaks in the 70s. Jamaican music influenced his style, and he emulated the Jamaican deejays by talking over the music he spun, called “toasting.” Toasting is nothing new, the art of chanting to a beat is ancient in African musical traditions.

It was the availability of sound systems and beat libraries that helped develop the style into our modern rap and hip hop. Hip hop music joins the ranks of older genres of music originating from African Americans such as blues, funk, disco, jazz and ragtime.

Hip Hop: A Cultural Movement

Hip hop, and now rap, have been used both to give minorities a voice for change and to create controversy over the years. There is an entire culture that’s formed around this music genre, from clothing and lifestyle choices to attitudes and beliefs.

Hip Hop started an entire cultural movement, an example of how one simple thing, by one person, can influence and alter generations. If you’ve ever wanted to make a positive influence in the world, but thought, “What can one person do?”, let this story be the wake-up call that motivates you.

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