Hip Hop Overview

* Geographical Origins
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DJ Kool Herc
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Afrika Bambaataa

Geographical Origins
Hip hop music is related to the griots of West Africa, traveling singers and poets whose musical style is reminiscent of hip hop. Some griot traditions came with slaves to the New World. The most important direct influence on the creation of hip hop music is the Jamaican style of toasting. Toasting is the act of talking or chanting over a rhythm or beat. This was initially developed in Jamaica during the 1960s. Toasting developed at dances in Jamaica known as "blues dances". "Blues dances" were dances which took place in large halls or out in the open in the slum yards. "Blues dances" were a regular feature of ghetto life in Jamaica. At these dances black American R&B records were played. Jamaicans were introduced to these records by black American sailors stationed on the island and by American radio stations in and around Miami which played R&B records. MCs from sound systems employed the technique to further enhance their dub plates. As time progressed the MCs would become more creative in their chants, eventually overshadowing the tunes they were initially supposed to enhance. This led to the earliest forms of what is know known as dancehall in Jamaica and hip hop in the US. (Source: Wikipedia, and Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute)

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DJ Kool Herc
DJ Kool Herc, born Clive Campbell, is a Jamaican American musician and producer, generally credited as a pioneer of hip hop during the 1970s. Herc immigrated to the Bronx bringing with him his knowledge of the Jamaican 'sound system' scene and Jamaican 'toasting' style. Kool Herc began to DJ in 1973 once he had amassed a great sound system.

Herc would buy two copies of the same record and play it over and over emphasizing the break section. Herc used two turntables to accomplish this feat. This technique became known as "beats" or "break-beats". As mixing in the "breaks" between the two turntables required more concentration, Herc became the first DJ to create MC-Dance team. (While Kool Herc performed at a club named the Hevalo, dancers to his music became known as "break dancers". (Source: Wikipedia, and Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute)

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DJ Kool Herc


Afrika Bambaataa
Afrika Bambaataa, born Kevin Donovan, was instrumental in the early development of hip hop. Donovan changed his name to Afrika Bambaataa Aasim in honor of an ancient Zulu chief. In 1973, Bambaata was a gang warlord of the violent Black Spades, but after a trip to Africa, he led his gang away from crime to musical innovation in his Universal Zulu Nation movement. Afrika transformed New York gangs into 'crews' who would battle with words rather than guns. By 1977, Bambaataa had begun organizing block parties all around the box, and he was soon renowned as one of the best DJs in the business. (Source: Wikipedia)

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Afrika Bambaataa

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