DJ Kool Herc is the father of hip hop

Hip-hop would cease to exist today if it wasn’t for DJ Kool Herc doing his classic “Merry-Go-Round” on a hot, humid August evening in The Bronx.

There, at a block party on Sedgwick Avenue, hip-hop was born. Before Herc (born Clive Campbell on Apr. 16, 1955) brought this then-innovative sound to Sedgwick Avenue, he’d take two records and play with them on his turntable.

That’s when he created “the break,” in which a DJ focus primarily on the percussive part of a record, and “scratching,” which manipulates the sound of a record. These two pioneering styles would extend the instrumental of a record, which allowed the crowd to dance longer to the percussion.

On that fateful evening on August 11, Herc brought his turntables and began to put on a party for the people who lived in an apartment project at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue. Herc also began to rap during the breakdancing that occurred at the party, and before you knew it, a new genre of music was born that would re-shape the culture and identity of popular music.

One of Herc’s first mentees would be a budding DJ name Kevin Donovan, who gave himself the stage name “Afrika Bambaataa.” Bambaataa first heard Herc in 1973, and inspired by his block parties, Bambaataa would get his own sound system and gain a following of his own, which would later be branded as the Zulu Nation.

You know who else Herc inspired? Joseph Saddler, who called Herc a “hero” to music. Saddler also began to acquire a system, and he would call himself “Grandmaster Flash” and assemble The Furious Five, the first group in hip-hop.

In a lot of ways, Herc would let the DJs of the future take hip-hop to new heights, which is exactly what they did, all while paying homage to the man that gave birth to the sound. It’s quite sad, actually, that a lot of hip-hop fans don't know who DJ Kool Herc is, but if you’re celebrating the 44th birthday of hip-hop on Aug 12, then you can’t properly celebrate it without celebrating the DJ that gave birth to a new revolution in music.