Today In Hip-Hop: DJ Kool Herc DJs The “Rec Room Party”

On this day, August 20, in hip-hop history…

DJ Kool Herc

1973: It’s the 41st anniversary of the legendary “Rec Room Party” hosted by DJ Kool Herc.

It’s mid-August in 1973, and a young, ambitious Clive Campbell is set to turn the tables with an all-star playlist at his sister’s back-to-school bash in the Bronx, New York. Little did anyone know that this day would go down in history as what we now know as hip-hop culture.

Colliding classic funk records from James Brown with eclectic, British rock accents from Babe Ruth, Herc became the creator of a new genre and a legend overnight after gathering over 300 people in the rec room of his family’s 1520 Sedgwick Avenue project complex. After captivating the masses and bringing a fresh sound to his first show, Herc was called upon to spin at much larger venues where he then found what is now known as “the break.” Closing in on a particularly percussive portion of a track by spinning the same record on two turntables, Kool Herc would isolate, prolong, and repeat a small fragment of a record that most people would enjoy dancing to. Cueing “the break” within records had a major impact on dance at the time, thus Herc became the acclaimed pioneer of the hip-hop terms “B-Boys” and “B-Girls” for the performers that would fall into “breakdance” during this segment of a record.

Over the years DJ Kool Herc would move on to inspire other hip-hop legends in the making, including recording artist and DJ Grandmaster Flash and Afrika Bambaataa. Herc’s notable innovations would create an everlasting art form and a known culture to thousands. Last year, New York City’s SummerStage honored 40 years of hip-hop with the “This is Hip-Hop” series celebrating the accomplishments of hip-hop’s originator. While this was a major honor, the culture of hip-hop will forever be indebted to the influences of DJ Kool Herc. Read more here.—Asia Burris