HISTORY OF HIP HOP

The Bronx was a rough place to grow up in the 70’s. Kids were surrounded by drug use, crime, gang violence, and a general air of defeat. Restless, yet refusing to be a victim of their circumstance, the youth started to dabble in different kinds of art. These art forms – whether it was music, dance, graffiti, fashion – soon became a lifestyle. A lifestyle known as Hip Hop. They embodied Hip Hop in the way they dressed, talked, expressed themselves, and treated their community. The values of Hip Hop are still alive and powerful. In whatever form, Hip Hop is characterized creativity, identity, self-expression, originality, and respect. Hip Hop is a movement that represents the freedom to learn, grow, and evolve.

It is still the same movement it was in the 70’s – the one that gave the inner-city youth the motivation to live a better life. And in order for you to be Hip Hop, you must actively participate in the culture.

Hip Hop Dance is a style of dance with deeply rooted historical, social, cultural contexts that trace back to the African and Afro-Caribbean diaspora. In this article, we’ll talk about Hip Hop’s history from the 1970’s in the Bronx, New York. We’ll also examine how Hip Hop culture, specifically Hip Hop dance, influences our lives in the present day.

hір-hор muѕіс bеgаn with dіѕс jockeys lооріng breaks іn songs оn turntаblеѕ tо create rhythms. As DJѕ bеgаn to реrfесt thіѕ sampling аnd ѕсrаtсhіng, rарреrѕ, оthеrwіѕе knоwn as MCѕ, accompanied them. Thеѕе MCѕ nоt оnlу rарреd, рrоvіdіng lуrісѕ and роеtrу to DJ’s rhythms, but аlѕо сrеаtеd thеіr оwn bеаtѕ thrоugh bеаt-boxing.

Thе Gоdfаthеr оf DJіng, DJ Clive “Kооl Hеrс” Campbell, сrеаtеd thе bluе print for whаt hip-hор muѕіс аnd сulturе іѕ fоundеd оn. In thе Bronx, Herc аlоng wіth other hіghlу rеѕресtеd DJѕ, lіkе Grandmaster Flаѕh and Jаzzу Jay, developed brеаk-bеаt dееjауіng оvеr turntаblеѕ, ѕреаkеrѕ, and mісrорhоnеѕ in public bаѕkеtbаll соurtѕ аnd ѕtrееtѕ to brіng соmmunіtіеѕ tоgеthеr.

MC'ѕ spoke оvеr these bеаtѕ through rhуmеѕ, wоrdрlау, аnd poetry. At parties that littered Sоuth Bronx’s streets, rappers and lyricists, like Mеllіе Mel of thе Furіоuѕ Five, used thіѕ time tо not оnlу hang оut wіth friends аnd раrtу, but tо соmmunісаtе messages about their lіvеѕ. Whеthеr it bе tо tell the ѕtоrу of creating a new beginning, expose thе tragedies of daily life, straight up attack еnеmіеѕ, or juѕt to party and hаvе a good tіmе, MCѕ used rар, frееѕtуlе, and spoken word as tооlѕ tо соnnесt with оthеrѕ and ѕау whаt was оn thеіr mіnd.

Graffiti is known by many as the visual expression of rap music. It can be used to express a variety of messages, ranging from deep social or political  issues, to expressions of beauty and creativity, to even marking one’s territory. Graffiti has been around since the earliest days of human civilization, but it is most commonly expressed in hip-hop culture via the aerosol paint can. Big bubble letters and complex murals are what comes to most people’s minds when they think of hip-hop graffiti, but it can really take any form of letters and pictures.

B-boying, or break-dancing, is the fourth element, and is known as the physical expression of hip-hop. The reason it’s called “break” dancing is because it was common for dancers to come up and show their best moves to the audience during the “break” section of the DJ’s song. The break is where there is an instrumental or percussion interlude – a perfect time for a dancer to take the stage and captivate an audience. While break-dance has roots in a number of cultures, it took the world by storm after it’s emergence in the early hip-hop scene among mainly Black and Puerto Rican youths in inner-city New York. Today, b-boying has now spread to all parts of the globe, and remains a key part of the hip-hop culture and lifestyle.

THE ORIGINS

DJ Kool Herc (AKA the “Father of Hip Hop”) used to start block parties in the West Bronx (AKA the “birthplace of Hip Hop”). If you’ve ever heard “1520 Sedgwick Avenue” that’s the address of the iconic building where most of these parties took place. Kool Herc played music there and the community would come out to mingle and dance. As he watched the party people, he noticed that they got the most hype during the breakbeat of a song. (The breakbeat is the instrumental, percussive section in funk and R&B records.) Kool Herc’s mission was to keep the energy of the party up, so he extended the breakbeat by 1. isolating it 2. using two turntables to keep playing it back to back, in a loop. Longer breakbeats = more time to go off! Grandmaster Flash further innovated the art of DJing by using his headphones to pinpoint exactly where the beats started and ended. This allowed him to “precue” the beats and make seamless transitions between the breaks. (Price 156) Afrika Bambaataa also expanded turntabling techniques.

 

Kool Herc real name "Clive Campbell" emigrated to the Bronx in 1967 when he was 12 years old.  While attending Alfred E. Smith High School he spent a lot of time in the weight room.  That fact coupled with his height spurned the other kids to call him Hercules.

His first deejay gig was as his sister’s birthday party.  It was the start of an industry.

1520 Sedgwick Avenue.  The address of Herc’s family and the location of the recreation room where he would throw many of his first parties as the DJ.

Herc became aware that although he new which records would keep the crowd moving, he was more interested in the break section of the song.  At this point in a song, the vocals would stop and the beat would just ride for short period.  His desire to capture this moment for a longer period of time would be a very important one for hip hop.

Herc would purchase two copies of the same record and play them on separate turntables next to each other.  He would play the break beat on one record then throw it over to the other turntable and play the same part.  Doing this over and over, he could rock any house in NY.  (Not to mention it being an early form of looping that would be made easier through electronic sampling.)

He would dig in crates and look everywhere to find the perfect break beat for his parties.  He didn’t care what type of music, because he only needed a small section of a song for his purposes.

His first professional DJ job was at the Twilight Zone in 1973.  He wanted to get into another place called the Hevalo, but wasn’t allowed…yet.

His fame grew.  In addition to his break beats, Herc also became known as the man with the loudest system around.  When he decided to hold a party in one of the parks, it was a crazy event.  And a loud one.  At this time Afrika Bambaataa and other competing DJ’s began trying to take Herc’s crown.  Jazzy Jay of the Zulu Nation recalls one momentous meeting between Herc and Bam.

Herc was late setting up and Bam continued to play longer than he should have.  Once Herc was set up he got on the microphone and said “Bambaataa, could you please turn your system down?”  Bam’s crew was pumped and told Bam not to do it.  So Herc said louder, “Yo, Bambaataa, turn your system down-down-down.”  Bam’s crew started cursing Herc until Herc put the full weight of his system up and said, “Bambaataa-baataa -baataa, TURN YOUR SYSTEM DOWN!” And you couldn’t even hear Bam’s set at all.  The Zulu crew tried to turn up the juice but it was no use.  Everybody just looked at them like, “You should’ve listened to Kool Herc.”

Finally his fame peaked and at last, in 1975, he began working at the Hevalo in the Bronx.  He helped coin the phrase b-boy (break boy) and was recently quoted as saying he was “the oldest living b-boy.”

As competing DJ’s looked to cut in on the action, Herc would soak the labels off his records so no one could steal his beats.

Grandmaster Flash had another story about Herc in his heyday

Flash would go into the Hevalo to check out Herc, but Herc would always embarrass him.  He would call Flash out on the mike and then cut out all the highs and lows on the system and just play the midrange.  Herc would say, “Flash in order to be a qualified disc jockey…you must have highs.”  Then he would crank up the highs and they would sizzle through the crowd.  Then he would say, “And most of all, Flash, you must have…bass.”  And when Herc’s bass came in the whole place would be shaking.  Flash would get so embarrassed he would leave.

After a while spinning the records got to be an all intensive thing and Herc wouldn’t have as much time to talk to the crowd and get them going.  He needed someone else to help out and act as the Master of Ceremonies for him.  And thus, for all practical purposes, Coke La Rock became the first hip hop MC ever.

Another club that Herc rocked was the Sparkle located at 174th and Jerome Avenue in the Bronx. This was the spot that came before the Hilltop, 371 (DJ Hollywood’s spot) and Disco Fever.

In 1977, Herc’s career began to fall.  The rise of Grandmaster Flash and Furious Five, and Bambaataa’s various crews with their polished emcee styles put Herc at a disadvantage.  One night he was stabbed three times at his own party and his career never fully recovered.

He appeared as himself in the film Beat Street.

Kool Herc played his last Old School party in 1984.

THE INFLUENCES

Breakbeats were addictive to hear for a reason. Breakbeats were extracted from classic funk and soul songs from the 60s and 70s. When hip hop started to brew, it was mostly the youth who paved the way. The youth was influenced by the funky sounds their parents used to blast in their homes. You can almost say parents made hip hop lol. The reason why many DJs had vicious record collections was because their parents were hardcore disco funk lovers. That passion for the sound of funk was passed down to their offspring, birthing the youth of hip-hop culture.

The art of funk drumming is the core of the breakbeat. DJs and b-boys were pretty spot on when it came to identifying funk drummers. James Brown is responsible for the most classic breakbeats in history. The funk drumming heard in the tunes of James Brown, made his drummers all time legends. Clayton Fillyau, John Starks and Clyde Stubblefield are exalted for their hand work. These men set the foundation for funk drumming in the late 60s to early 70s and were Mr. Brown’s main drummers. Talk about funk power. Classic songs such as “Sex Machine”, “Super Bad”, “Funky Drummer” and “I’ve Got Money” bestowed the most used breakbeats in the history of hip-hop b-boying.

Now, it was not just the drummers of James Brown that posed with the best breaks. Maurice Whitewho is best known as the founder of Earth, Wind and Fire and Earl Palmer who worked the drums for class acts in the likes of Little Richard, Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra are also known for their craft of funk drum beats.

GET ON THE GOOD FOOT

When it comes to the original b-boys and girls of Hip-Hop culture, there is an overwhelming collective of influences. The idea of the groove connected with a couple of universal accolades, one of them being the Godfather of Funk and Soul, James Brown.

James Brown has influenced the art of breakin’ in many ways. The music of James Brown was the most played by DJs at jams. James Brown records were among the records with the highest groove because of the break section. Mr. Brown made sure he always had a grand drummer in his band. The magical handiwork of Clyde Stubblefield and Clayton Fillyau are James Brown’s most resonant in the Hip-Hop community.

Not only did the tunes of James Brown influence the breaker, but his all time classic moves laid down the blueprint for the hip-hopping b-boy and girl. While the adults of the Bronx and downtown Manhattan nightclub goers were obsessed with “The Hustle”, the youth was getting hip with the funk bound moves of James Brown. His 1972 single, “Get on the Good Foot” became a nationwide hit and chart shiner and took over the style of dance for youth in the black community. The dance routine by Mr. Brown for “Get on the Good Foot” became an instant mimic of funk lovers. The routine was filled with energetic rapid dancing that had focal emphasis on drops and spins to the floor. The routine became known as “The Good Foot”.

James Brown is indeed the core influence of the boogie boy and boogie girl. But what lead to the time of James Brown? The influencers of James Brown have a lot to do with why the Black community is to in tune with the art of dance and funk vibes. It actually goes so back to the beginning of time.

Not only did the tunes of James Brown influence the breaker, but his all time classic moves laid down the blueprint for the hip-hopping b-boy and girl. While the adults of the Bronx and downtown Manhattan nightclub goers were obsessed with “The Hustle”, the youth was getting hip with the funk bound moves of James Brown. His 1972 single, “Get on the Good Foot” became a nationwide hit and chart shiner and took over the style of dance for youth in the black community. The dance routine by Mr Brown for “Get on the Good Foot” became an instant mimic of funk lovers. The routine was filled with energetic rapid dancing that had focal emphasis on drops and spins to the floor. The routine became known as “The Good Foot”.

James Brown is indeed the core influence of the boogie boy and boogie girl. But what lead to the time of James Brown? The influencers of James Brown have a lot to do with why the Black community is to in tune with the art of dance and funk vibes. It actually goes so back to the beginning of time.

TAP DANCERS

In the late 1910s to the early 1920s, the flash and style seen in the moves of Black Vaudevilledancers put the people in awe. Black Vaudeville dancers in the likes of Alice Whitman, who is known as the greatest female tap dancer of her time and Bill Robinson a.k.a. Bojangles, who is admired for his lavish footwork are icons who the early b-boys and girls mimicked their moves from.

Considered by many as the greatest tap dancers in history, during the 1930s, Fayard and Harold known as the Nicolas Brothers were a phenomenon. Their inclusion of flips, twists, acrobatics, spins and signature floorwork was one of a kind. The true boogie boys and girls took also after the craft of the Nicolas Brothers.

Different types of human skill expression from all over the world made an impact on the Hip Hop boogie boy and girl. The generation that came after the b-boy pioneers (second generation b-boys), were hooked on the moves they saw fighters do in martial arts movies. Kung-Fu movies in particular.

In the mid to late 70s, Kung-Fu films were very popular in New York City and all over the world. Kung Fu movie stars like Bruce Lee, Jet Li, Sammo Hungand many others became idols to New York City youth because of their amazing, complex moves of combat.

In the 80s, every night it was a fad for the youth to head to Times Square in Manhattan aka The Deuce to catch the latest Kung-Fu flicks. The Deuce was packed with New York City youth from every borough, The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Harlem, and Staten Island. At the time, the movie theaters in Times Square were showing Kung Fu flicks.

There are over a tenfold of martial arts moves that transferred into the life of breaking. Most of these moves are known to be power moves. Power moves are moves that require intense speed, spinning, impulse, rotating and several acrobatic like movements. One of the most popular power movies is The Windmill. The windmill is a power move that came from a Kung Fu movie. With the use of the elbow, stomach, feet, legs and back, breakers found a way to rotate back to their fronts.

MARTIAL ARTS

HIP HOP DANCE & DANCERS

BBOYS & CREW

THE LEGENDARY TWINS

ZULU KINGS (1973)

THE BRONX BOYS ROCKING CREW (1975)

STAR CHILD LA ROCK (1977)

In Brooklyn a new step inspired by these drops was being developed and called "Brooklyn Rock" also known as "Uprocking". Once the first early break moves had been established, a definite style began to develop. The famous first generation of b-boys were "Nigger Twins", "Clark Kent", and "Zulu Kings". Around 1977 breaking was losing its popularirty with black kids and it was about to die.

However, breaking came back with a new generation of b-boys. It was Puerto Rican b-boys who put new life to breaking and took it into next level. They started to put many higner levels of acrobatics and gymnastics into breaking and invented many new moves. B-boys such as Crazy Legs from Rock Steady Crew who were influenced by Jimmy Lee and Joe Joe, members of original Rock Steady Crew developed and invented the new moves such as backspins and windmills.

I want to mention that there are also other b-boys such as Lil Lep from New York City Breakers who should get props by developed b-boying. Also, media stars like Bruce Lee and other Kung Fu film stars and martial artisits had a major influence on b-boying culture. The popularity of Kung Fu films during the mid and late 70s aroudn the world and especially in New York City, has had a great impact on b-boying style.

A large number of martial arts moves were incorporated into b-boying. For example, windmills came from a kung fu which is used to get up from the floor. By repeating getting-up move, windmills was born. B-boying became even more popular in 80s. It was first introduced to out side of New York CIty and the rest of world by a movie "Flashdance" in 1983. (Before the "Flashdance", there were already movies like "Wildstyle" and "Stylewars". But the "Flashdance" was the first major movie which featured b-boying.) Even though it was not b-boying movie, the short scene which featured b-boying and popping on a street had a great impact enough to inspire people to start b-boying all over the world. After the "Flashdance", many breaking movies were made such as "Breakin'", "Breaking'2", and "Beat street." "Beat Street" also had a great impact because it had a scene of battle between Rock Steady Crew and New York City Breakers.

CRAZY COMMANDOS CREW (1976)

ROCK STEADY CREW (1977)

DYNAMIC ROCKERS (1979)

NYC BREAKERS/FLOOR MASTERS 1983

PIONNERS

SPY (CRAZY COMMANDOS

THE HIP HOP YEARS

HIP HOP YEARS PART 1

HIP HOP YEARS PART 2

HIP HOP YEARS PART 3

STYLE WARS (1983)

National Diversity Awards 2018 Nominee

Find us: 

iGym London  Victoria Road, Acton, W3 6BL

© 2018 Proudly created by Society Dance Academy 

Company Number 11268971

SOC!ETY DANCE ACADEMY LTD