Kool DJ Herc is a Jamaican American musician and producer, who is credited as a pioneer of hip-hop during the 1970s as a result of his trendsetting musical technique and influence on hip-hop culture as a whole. He was born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1955 as Clive Campbell and he immigrated to the Bronx in 1967 when he was 12 years old. He used this dichotomy of his two cultures to create a syncretism of African Diaspora with music. He mixed his native Caribbean culture with that of black American natives. This constant flux between hip-hop and dancehall reggae is in fact still seen today. 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 Herculesand he indeed transcended the common man. Herc was the originator of break-beat deejaying, wherein the breaks of funk songsbeing the most danceable partwere isolated and repeated for the purpose of all-night dance parties. His "breaks" were symbolic in a sense, for the youthful dancing audienceb-boys and "b-girlswere allowed a release of tension from the gang violence that permeated their environment. Kool Herc provided them with a vehicle for freedom of expression and creativity. Furthermore, his confidence and swagger initially put his live performance above his contemporaries; however, his inability to keep up with new musical advances and commercialization was the root of his demise. In the 1980s, later DJs, such as Grandmaster Flash, refined and developed the use of break beats. Kool Herc's input, nevertheless, has been essential for the hip-hop genre, and can be referenced in the controversy over the use of sampling in the present day.
[...] The enforcement of copyright and intellectual property laws in the past would have put an immediate halt to DJ Kool Herc's musical activity. Today, no one would argue that a major sample from an earlier work should be paid for. What became sticky was when producers took small bits and pieces from earlier songs. For example, if an artist sampled a small snippet of a song, played it backwards, and added a harmony from a popular TV show behind it, the line of infringement becomes blurred. [...]
[...] Kool Herc's swagger was indisputable, and his confidence often caused distress for his fellow contemporaries. This intimidation was not permanent however, as Herc's competition--Afrika Bambaataa, Grandmaster Flash, and the recording industry surpassed him. Herc and Bambaataa are truly known for their musical choices and blending of one song into another, rather than for the complex turntable maneuverings, techniques, and tricks that marked later DJs such as Grandmaster Flash. Grandmaster Flash would later develop future turntable manipulations such as cutting, and introduce a percussion system known as the beat-box. [...]
[...] In the 80s there was a sampling craze and as sampling became more popular, hip-hop DJs got even more creative--producing music collages. Ricky Vincent, author of "The History of Funk", claims that sampling is not very different from riffing or vamping done by most musicians. James Brown and others often riffed and vamped existing harmonies to make them their own. It is the technology that has changed. Instead of playing drums, musicians use drum machines. Instead of playing piano, they use keyboards and synthesizers. [...]
[...] All of a sudden, Herc had headphones but I guess he was so used to dropping the needle down by eyesight and trying to mix it that from the audio part of it he couldn't get into it too well. Herc's career was further sidelined when he was stabbed three times at one of his parties. The incident occurred in 1977 and he never fully recovered. Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, and Bambaataa's various crews soon left him behind. [...]
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