Sorry to say I was out of town and missed last summer’s 40th Anniversary of Hip Hop celebration in Central Park, but I was super happy to hear Kool Herc, Coke La Rock and Soul Sonic Force were part of the ceremony. Hopefully, the media will start giving more attention to the First Generation soon, the people who actually invented hip hop and many of whom remain impoverished and greatly under-appreciated.
By the way, most historians place the birth of hip hop as Kool Herc’s sister’s (Cindy) birthday party, held on August 11th (although her birthday was two days later on August 13, 1973. Today many refer to this as a “back to school” party, although no one goes to school in August in NYC.)
Herc gave a powerful speech at the event: “Instead of making it rain in the strip club, make it drizzle in the daycare center… It’s about people respecting people, that’s what hip hop’s supposed to be… How many Trayvons got shot in Harlem last week, how many Trayvons got shot in Brooklyn last week?”
Afrika Bambaataa, the disgraced founder of the Universal Zulu Nation, has a different chronology and places the actual birth of hip hop in 1974 when he began recruiting teens into his organization. Unfortunately, some of those teens are now grown men and are accusing Bam of molesting them when they were minors.
I have a new theory. I place the start of hip hop with the Ghetto Brothers and their attempts to bring peace to the South Bronx through parties, music and gatherings. The Ghetto Brothers formed a band with conga drums that helped forge the style of music soon favored by the emerging b-boy generation.
So where do you place the birth of hip hop? With Herc’s break beat birthday party or with the street gang that ended the violence and started the music?
If you have any interest in this subject, I have a book on the subject that I’m presently updating.