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On August 11, 1973, in the heart of the Bronx, a new cultural movement was brewing. This was the day when the distinct elements of rapping, deejaying, and dancing started to coalesce into a unified art form that we now recognize as hip-hop. It emerged from a shared environment, where these art forms organically evolved, drawing energy from the bustling streets and vibrant communities.

The Genesis: DJ Kool Herc

DJ Kool Herc digging through crates
DJ Kool Herc, looking through his records, DJing, Blackpool, UK 07.10.2000. (Photo by Henry Iddon/PYMCA/Avalon/Getty Images)

The first major hip-hop deejay, DJ Kool Herc, born as Clive Campbell, stands as the pioneering force behind this genre. An 18-year-old immigrant from Jamaica, he brought the powerful sound systems of his native country to the urban parties of New York. His innovative approach to music would forever change the world.

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DJ Kool Herc’s Revolution: Two Turntables

DJ Kool Herc performs in brooklyn
NEW YORK – JUNE 14: Hip-Hop musician DJ Kool Herc performs on the steps of the Brooklyn Public Library’s Central Branch on June 14, 2008 Grand Army Plaza in New York. The concert is a part of “The Library Rocks” concert series. (Photo by Al Pereira/WireImage)

DJ Kool Herc used two turntables to create a continuous flow of music, a revolutionary concept at the time. He cleverly fused percussive fragments from older records with popular dance songs, creating an innovative musical tapestry. This method resulted in a rhythmic and energetic sound, captivating audiences and laying the foundation for the hip-hop genre.

The Evolution of Hip Hop Post-1973

hip-hop 50 performance at Grammys
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA FEBRUARY 5: 65th GRAMMY AWARDS An array of rappers perform a tribute to the 50th anniversary of hip hop at the 65th Grammy Awards, held at the Arena on February 5, 2023. — (Photo by Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

DJ Kool Herc is widely credited for the genesis of hip-hop in 1973. However, it’s crucial to acknowledge the countless artists who contributed to its evolution post-1973. These individuals, inspired by Herc’s innovative techniques, went on to experiment and diversify the genre. As a result, the genre developed into a multi-dimensional and globally recognized art form, resonating with diverse audiences around the world.

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Hip Hop 1973: A Cultural Milestone

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American hip hop duo Eric B. (right) and Rakim walking across 14th Street in New York City, circa 1989. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

The creation of the genre in 1973 didn’t just mark the birth of a new musical genre; it symbolized a cultural revolution. It gave voice to the experiences, struggles, and triumphs of urban communities, providing a platform for expression and storytelling. Since its inception, hip-hop has continued to shape and reflect societal narratives, underscoring its significance beyond music.


Reflecting on the birth of hip-hop in 1973, we pay homage to DJ Kool Herc and the vibrant Bronx community. Their groundbreaking contributions gave rise to a genre that has profoundly influenced popular culture. Even beyond that: fashion, language, and even politics over the decades.

As we celebrate hip-hop’s 50th anniversary this year, we recognize it not just as a genre, but as a cultural movement that continues to reverberate across generations and borders.

While the genre has undoubtedly evolved since 1973, its origins in the Bronx remain central to its identity. Hip-hop, at its core, remains a powerful expression of resilience, creativity, and community – a legacy that started with DJ Kool Herc on that transformative night in August 1973.

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