DJ Kool Herc  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

DJ Kool Herc (born Clive Campbell on April 16, 1955 in Kingston, Jamaica), is a musician and producer who is generally credited as the pioneer of hip hop during the 1970s.

According to All Music Guide, he was the originator of break-beat DJing, where the breaks of funk songs—being the most danceable part, often featuring percussion—were isolated and repeated for the purpose of all-night dance parties. Later DJs such as Grandmaster Flash refined and developed the use of breakbeats, including cutting.

While growing up in Kingston he saw and heard the sound systems firsthand at neighborhood parties called dancehalls (Chang 2005). He moved to the Bronx, New York at the age of 12 and began to throw free neighborhood parties.

He is also well known for his massive, high-quality, high-volume sound system, against which even superior DJs could not compete (Toop, 1991). Herc first used reggae records and was toasting to the music like Jamaican artists U-Roy and I-Roy. But he started using funk records due to popular demand.

Kool Herc and his MC crew The Herculords "started a movement which recycled the creativity of black American jive jocks back into the USA" (Toop 39). The relationship between hip hop and reggae became more important again with reggae artists and rappers collaborating with each other, from Yellowman and Afrika Bambaataa to KRS-One and Shabba Ranks. Hip hop and reggae still influence each other in both directions.

During the later part of the decade, Herc was stabbed at one of his own parties, sidelining him during most of the 1980s as hip hop spread throughout the country (AMG). During the 1990s, he made several appearances, gave interviews, and appeared on The Godfathers of Threat by Terminator X (a DJ with Public Enemy). He still DJs around the world.


Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "DJ Kool Herc" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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