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~*¤HIP-HOP HISTORY¤*~

The History of Hip Hop

Rap music originated as a cross-cultural product. Most of its important early practitioners-including Kool Herc, D.J. Hollywood, and Afrika Bambaataa-were either first- or second-generation Americans of Caribbean ancestry. Herc and Hollywood are both credited with introducing the Jamaican style of cutting and mixing into the musical culture of the South Bronx. By most accounts Herc was the first DJ to buy two copies of the same record for just a 15-second break (rhythmic instrumental segment) in the middle. By mixing back and forth between the two copies he was able to double, triple, or indefinitely extend the break. In so doing, Herc effectively deconstructed and reconstructed so-called found sound, using the turntable as a musical instrument.

While he was cutting with two turntables, Herc would also perform with the microphone in Jamaican toasting style-joking, boasting, and using myriad in-group references. Herc's musical parties eventually gained notoriety and were often documented on cassette tapes that were recorded with the relatively new boombox, or blaster, technology. Taped duplicates of these parties rapidly made their way through the Bronx, Brooklyn, and uptown Manhattan, spawning a number of similar DJ acts. Among the new breed of DJs was Afrika Bambaataa, the first important Black Muslim in rap. (The Muslim presence would become very influential in the late 1980s.) Bambaataa often engaged in sound-system battles with Herc, similar to the so-called cutting contests in jazz a generation earlier. The sound system competitions were held at city parks, where hot-wired street lamps supplied electricity, or at local clubs. Bambaataa sometimes mixed sounds from rock-music recordings and television shows into the standard funk and disco fare that Herc and most of his followers relied upon. By using rock records, Bambaataa extended rap beyond the immediate reference points of contemporary black youth culture. By the 1990s any...


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