Kool Herc plays the genesis figure in hip-hop's fable; the first party the Jamaican-born, Bronx-raised DJ threw in the recreation room of his building at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in 1973 is credited with formalizing the genre. From behind two turntables Herc spun the short, percussive sections of (often) soul and funk songs; on the dance floor in front of him, kids would kick moves that eventually became known as breaking. Before hip-hop's holy old school trinity of Afrika Bambaataa, Grandmaster Flash and Grand Wizard Theodore, there was Herc. As Herc puts it today, "That's the reference point for hip-hop right there."
Backed up by the might of his Herculoids crew and a sound system comprised of a gargantuan wall of speakers, Herc continued to hold down the key DJ position during the period of hip-hop history that unfurled before the first rap records were released in 1979. Herc excelled in a creative playground of high school gymnasiums and local nightclubs, not the recording studios of corporate record labels that would scramble around to try and monetize hip-hop. In advance of his appearance at fellow old-school giant Melle Mel's 50th birthday party at BB Kings tomorrow--which will have a lineup spanning several rap generations--Herc looks back on his three most notable old-school hip-hop venues.More »