Kool Herc: Should Labels and Artists Foot His Medical Bill?
Similar to blues, hip-hop is an industry that has built on its own history while often leaving its true forefathers in the dust as others experience success on their backs. Cite the case of the genre's "Godfather" Kool Herc as an example.
The world of hip-hop received some horrible news over the weekend with word that Kool Herc is in poor health and needs money to cover his medical bills. DJ Premier broke the news that the 55-year-old DJ has no health insurance and is reaching out for donations to pay for upcoming procedures. Near instantaneously, news spread and fans began a viral campaign to make sure Herc would have the money necessary to move forward with a surgery planned for tomorrow.
Yet where are the labels and artists in this matter? They're mostly silent.
By the time Run-D.M.C. topped charts and went gold with 'Sucker MCs' in 1983, Herc was already broke, drug-addled and struggling to get by. Cut to 2010: Jay-Z pulled in $63 million in a single year, and Diddy, in a relatively slow year, netted approximately $30 million. Both artists, as well as a whole slew of those who have risen since Puffy first wore his shiny suits, could easily pay for Herc's surgery.
But hip-hop artists aren't responsible, not directly. There's a better argument to be made for record labels footing the bill. Without Herc's turntable innovations, there would be no hip-hop artists. As Q-Tip put it this morning, without Herc, there's no Kanye. As multimillion dollar recording and marketing budgets are being doled out everyday, the music industry itself could step up and thank hip-hop's inventor by saving his life.
We encourage readers to also look to Music Maker Relief Foundation -- a nonprofit that "helps pioneers and forgotten heroes of Southern music gain recognition and meet their day to day needs." While this organization handles blues musicians, an enterprising hip-hop fan could easily create something similar for this generation to ensure that its innovators don't have to struggle with health care late in life.
Donations for Kool Herc can be sent to: Kool Herc Production, P.O. Box 20472, Huntington Station, N.Y. 11746.
Watch Kool Herc Do His Thing on 'Merry-Go-Round'