Happy Birthday, DJ Kool Herc!
Hip-hop is a relatively young genre, but these days, you're seeing many of the OGs make their transition into the golden years. The legendary DJ Kool Herc is one of them. He turns 60 today (April 16).
DJ Kool Herc is essentially one of the founders of hip-hop. The Jamaica native borrowed aspects from the deceased disco genre to form some of the main pillars of hip-hop in the '70s. Using two turntables, Kool Herc used the breaks of songs -- the drum-heavy instrumental portions -- to elevate the party.
Dancers adapted their moves to the rhythm and from there, you have what Kool Herc called break boys and girls (now commonly known as B Boys and B Girls). This was one of the big examples of the possibilities of sampling, which is of course a major aspect of hip-hop. MCs molded their words into the broken rhythms. Eventually you got a cultural force.
But the importance of DJ Kool Herc's innovation doesn't just lie in that decades-long consequence. At the time, the South Bronx, N.Y. was the picture of societal decay. Crime was part of life and economic opportunities were sparse; the world outside of the South Bronx was a fantasy for many. Still, Kool Herc's craft did the best with what it had, molding and blending its urban influences into something new and positive.
Kool Herc never broke into the mainstream like the craft he helped birth. Still, you only need a cursory look to understand why he's so highly regarded.
See 20 Words That Mean Something Completely Different in Hip-Hop