You Say You Love Hip Hop…Then Why No Love For Kool Herc?

I said a hip hop the hippie the hippie to the hip hip hop, a you don’t stop
the rock it to the bang bang boogie say up jumped the
boogie to the rhythm of the boogie, the beat.
Now what you hear is not a test. I’m rappin to the beat and me,
the groove, and my friends are gonna try to move your feet..
-Sugar Hill Gang-“Rappers Delight”

(Go ahead and rap the rest to yourself…You know you want to!)

If you have heard any hip hop lyric every in your life you have heard the lyric above in some form or fashion. If you hadn’t heard the original by the Sugar Hill Gang you have heard the remake by the Def squad or some hip hop artist flipping some lyric of this song. Rappers Delight was many people’s introduction to the burgeoning musical movement in the many vast boroughs of New York. Every borough has some form of claim of their contribution to hip hop but most will not dispute the beginning innovations of the vast array of DJs and MCs who lived in the Bronx- one particularly being DJ Kool Herc.

Kool Herc is considered the founding father of hip hop though this high disputed (and rightfully so). Kool Herc the night of August 11, 1973 while spinning and MCing a party in a basement did something no other DJ had done up till that point. DJ Kool Herc extended an instrumental beat (breaking or scratching) to let people dance longer (break dancing) and began MCing (rapping) during the extended break dancing. (Source) No other DJ until that point was able to extend the song unless the record was in an extended fashion.   Kool Herc even gave birth to the term break boys and girls (later coined b-boys and b-girls). This new style of music exploded through the different boroughs of New York and eventually spread throughout the country and the world because of one man’s innovation.

Kool Herc is now in the hospital with kidney stones and they have asked the hip hop community for donations to help out since he has no health care (You can find out more info here). It so ironic that the person who has helped create this art form that many of us love is in a situation of needing donations and aid. I applaud the people who have come together to help out someone who has done so much for the art.

It’s interesting how many people say they are hip hop fans but know nothing of the contributions of DJ Kool Herc. Being a hip hop fan and not understanding the significance of Kool Herc is like a Jazz fan not knowing the contributions of Miles Davis to Jazz, a blues fan not knowing WC Handy, Rock n Roll fans not acknowledging Jimmy Hendrix.  Hip Hop maybe the only genre of music that does not pay proper homage to their pioneers. Just like much of our society’s outlook on life, hip hop consistently has a “what have you done for me lately” attitude. Some people don’t think they have a have a need to understand where the hip hop has been in the past. This is where much of the disconnect occurs with hip hop connoisseurs/artists today and hip hop pioneers such as Kool Herc.

Though I was not born when Kool Herc did the first scratch and break I understood and knew its significance. One can love whatever rapper they wish since it is their choice but one can’t understand the music without knowing where it comes from. I have no problem if you think Lil Wayne, Waka Flocka, Gucci Mane, T.I., or Wiz Khalifa are the best MCs since sliced bread was created but make sure you take time to understand things like the legendary Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash, Afrika Bambaataa, etc.

My dude @Shadzilla said a dope quote to me the other day about people’s unawareness of DJ Kool Herc’s contribution to Hip Hop. He said, “Niggaz know the price of everything…but value the importance of nothing.” He definitely has a point in what he said because without a doubt (and I say this with a heavy heart) hip hop has its fair share of blame when it comes to “The Culture of Ignorance” that has taken over our generation. Hip Hop has even forgotten about the greats that have paved the way. If it wasn’t for MTV’s Run’s House and Jam Master Jay’s death and his association with 50 cent would most people even give a care about colossal contributions of the great Run DMC?

At the end of the day how can you say you love Hip Hop so much but don’t know who Kool Herc is. That makes me have to ask you the question: How much love do you really have for Hip Hop…?

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16 responses to “You Say You Love Hip Hop…Then Why No Love For Kool Herc?

  1. Love Love this post D!!! I love the way you paid homage to Kool Herc! People forget him so fast but you did him so much justice in this!

  2. I wanna be furious at ALL the so called rappers that toss $$$ in video’s that have not contributed. It shouldn’t take too many to get surgery $$$.

    Then I have to think, maybe a lot of these rap cats DON’T know who he is.

    Whatever the case, this situation is a clear showing of just how IGNORANT the rap community is.

    But like everything, it will pass and nothing will be said.

    Just my 2 cents.

  3. Most folks barely know anything about black history or histoiry as a whole. You think most folks are going to take thime to seek out DJ Kool Herc…Great write up though!

  4. I’ve never heard of him but I’m not hip-hop head. Good you know alot about what you’re listening to. Everything is such a remix or “rip-off” of something and we never really know because we never REALLY know. Very informative.

  5. Shouts to you for posting on this! I’ve seen the issue floating around in tweets via Twitter but it takes an extra step for a blogger to post on it in an effort to raise awareness. This issue of a “culture of ignorance” extends itself beyond hip hop and into our very own existence as Black people in America. We still do not, by large, understand and know the history of who WE are as we were trained to devalue such. Thus even to this day out people have no respect or desire to know the origin of a thing. Perfect example is your Christian homie who can’t tell u the origin of the Bible. So I think this problem sheds light on a bigger disaster going on among us, the perpetuation of ignorance.

    What bothers me most is that even if 20 year old dude on the corner doesn’t know who Kool Herc is, the people who have become the RICHEST(in our community) do and where are they? Which brings up another issue, it is each generations job to carry the torch and along with that responsibility comes educating the people of today about the things of yesterday. Hip hop, like you said, does not represent it’s pioneers but it’s kinda hard to do that when the only thing we can write lyrics about are bottle popping, birthday sex, popping tags, or shooting up the homies. What other genre of music has such contrived and controlled content? Anyway that’s a tangent, this is sad on so many levels, down to the fact that so many are eating off his innovation but he doesn’t even have health insurance. Thanks so much for the post Hun!

  6. Very good post! You highlight the significance of having a firm grounding in the history of Hip-Hop. This is very important because it helps one to truly understand what gives rise to the present state of Hip-Hop. You have challenged your readers to really make sure that they comprehensively understand Hip-Hop.

  7. great post! coming from and living in san antonio texas we’re pretty much the last place that gets updated on music and fashion and other things culture, we do have the worlds largest MLK march…google it! i’m serious. lol! and that is one thing i’m proud of. I actually moved to the nyc for a while back in 2000 to 2001 and was able to see the difference of culture from san antonio to new york, but the one thing i see as to why the gods of hip hop are being forgotten is the same reason or excuse as to why most blacks and browns are losing touch with their past. It’s because those who are becoming rich want to forget where they came from, because those blacks and browns are ashamed and embarrassed of their grand parents or great grand parents who were poor and uneducated and had to pick cotton or worked in the fields of texas under the burning sun to make ends meet. once you lose that part of your life, as to where you came from, you lose what got you there in the first place. i’m always asking my parents about my grand parents and great grand parents, asking for pictures and stories about who they are and what they did, because if it wasn’t for their sacrifices we wouldn’t be who we are today, regardless of color or education or financial status. as this is where hip hop is losing it’s connection with it’s great past, becuase those of today want to forget about what got hip hop to where it is today, probably not because they’re ashamed but because the past wont make them money, it’s the future they’re worried about…like in the movie brown surgar and the question of “when did you fall in love with hip hop” well it was 1986 and it was when i heard the scratching and jingle bells from run dmc’s peter piper, from that day foward i was hooked and in love with hip hop, now i’m falling out of love with it because it has become so commercial that now it’s about making money, making it rain, slapping b’s and shooting someone or dissing someone. that’s not what real hip hop is all about. mad love to kool herc! i’m 42 years olds and if it wasn’t for the founders of hip hop like kool herc and run dmc and slick rick and the likes, i wouldn’t be who i am today.

    • Great points brought up here! Like I have said I think its a big disconnect between the old skool and new skool and its part;y both parties faults but mostly the new jacks

  8. Great post.

    I was listening to [I think] The Tom Joyner Morning Show the other morning and it spoke upon DJ Kool Herc a being the original pioneer of hip hop beats. As much as I love the music and culture I was shocked that I never knew this, although I had heard the name in and around various hip hop circles over the years.

    Then, as you pointed out, the broadcast went on to point out that Herc was in the hospital and suffering from an ailment. It’s kinda sad that it always seems to come down to seeking support from those who should be standing in line to offer support for those who paved the way or blazed the trails for current rap artists.

    @shadzilla speaks the truth with this quote. Hip hop pays homage, but never its PROPER homage.

  9. Nice, D. I love it! But I’m not even gettin started on this one. Ur not going to pay me for this book. LOL. And I don’t claim to know everything about Hip Hop, but this one hits home in so many ways. Love the arts, bring back the artists!

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