The Mystery Of Hip Hop's Origin: Not DJ Kool Herc (?)
Let me first say this so there is no confusion about where this blog is headed. NOBODY knows when and where Hip Hop started. Yes, it’s cool to say DJ Kool Herc started Hip Hop because that narrative is well publicized. How does one man START a Culture? I respect Kool Herc but Hip Hop has no start date. Let me say this again just in case you somehow missed it. Hip Hop has NO start date. We’ve heard the stories about Kool Herc riding around The Bronx with equipment and playing music before RAP was legitimized on record.
The word on the streets of New York is Herc was first to gain popularity for doing this and we appreciate his contribution. That said, it's well documented that DJ’s on the West Coast, Southern Regions of America and throughout the nation played park jams, house parties and things of that nature. Who pulled the turntables out first is a mystery forever. Hip Hop as a culture came after the Civil Rights movement and there is no doubt that artist would eventually use music as an outlet. I think we are shortchanging our entire culture when we say DJ Kool Herc or The Bronx originated Hip Hop. Hip Hop came before Rap Music with mostly Blacks and Latinos from East to West Coast contributing to this amazing way of life.
I’m in my 40’s and I remember as a kid my older siblings, uncles and family friends playing Motown records for House Parties. This was before Sugar Hill Gang made a record or rumors of some guy (We didn't know who he was yet) in New York riding around setting up park jams. We were living in our own world and community. You can now find a documentary of guy’s that DJ’d in the 70’s who had similar techniques (breakbeats) as Herc. I know it's difficult to go against the narratives laid before us in regard to Hip Hop. Let's be honest though, breakdancing and graffiti was going on nationwide but The Bronx get credit for breakdancing. Graffiti has actually been around in some form or fashion for centuries. We are living in the “Age of Information” so obtaining answers to folklore is much easier. To be perfectly blunt, Hip Hop started EVERYWHERE. Every urban & lower income community in the 70’s assisted in sparking this culture that we love and embrace. You have to remember that history is often told by the first to document an event. At one point all of the Hip Hop and Rap Music Publications were based out of New York and for the most part, originated there.
Please believe me, I love what New York has done for Hip Hop but let’s give Hip Hop its proper respect. To repeat myself one final time, wherever there was struggle within minority communities, a small piece of Hip Hop was created..