*On August 11, 1973, in the Bronx, NY, a neighborhood DJ known for throwing house parties decided to try something different for the “Back to School Jam” he would hold that night in the rec room of his apartment complex.
DJ Kool Herc noticed that people on the dancefloor had more energy during the instrumental breaks of the songs he’d play. So the 18-year-old figured he’d spin only the intros and breaks of his vinyl stash and see what happened.
Welp, what happened was the birth of the break beat that, in turn, birthed hip hop. The instrumental breaks gave his friend, Coke La Rock, a music bed to shout out individuals among the 300 or so people who showed up to the party.
For parties in Cedar Park the following summer, Herc figured out a way to make those instrumental breaks continuous, providing an endless music bed for emcees to talk over.
This merry-go-round technique would be refined and expanded with scratches and such by other DJs like Grandmaster Flash and Afrika Bambaataa, but it was Clive Campbell, a.k.a. DJ Kool Herc, that started the break beat 47 years ago today in that rec room at 1520 Sedgewick Ave. in The Bronx.
The three songs that Herc used in his very first merry-go-round experiment deserve just as much credit for the birth of hip hop. Below are the tracks in their entirety, and more.
James Brown – Give It Up Or Turn It a Loose [at the 4:20 mark]
James Brown – Give It Up Or Turn It a Loose Live 1971 (Remastered)
Incredible Bongo Band – Bongo Rock
Incredible Bongo Band introduces themselves on “Action 73,” hosted by Dick Clark
Incredible Bongo Band reunited (Scene from “Sample This” 2012 documentary)
Babe Ruth – The Mexican
Babe Ruth – The Mexican – Live in Montreal 1975 (Remastered)
At the 3:06 mark below, Janita Haan and Alan Shocklock of Babe Ruth on finding out that their “progressive rock” song “The Mexican” was being used as a hip hop break beat | #SFLive Interview