Appreciating Hip-Hop: The “Father” Kool Herc On The Origins and Current State of His Beloved Culture


It’s a reality that our heroes and icons will not be here living with us forever, so it’s best to take the time to appreciate their words when they grace us with their presence and knowledge.

Simply put, when a legend speaks, you listen.

You embrace and respect what they brought to the table. What can you learn from the eyes of greatness and apply it to your own life? How do the ways of their time still hold true? pondered these questions, as we examined the State of Hip-Hop while listening to Kool Herc a year ago at the Core DJ Retreat in Miami, Florida.

Hearing the “Father of Hip-Hop” break down the culture’s origins and how he came to be who he was, in essence, was pure greatness. While some of the dialogue was confusing, what you do pull from Kool Herc speech is a sense of appreciation for an art form that was made for the kids. It doesn’t matter to Kool Herc if it’s snap music, if it’s electronic dance Hip-Hop, or if rappers like Drake are singing or not. It’s about the kids.

Hip-Hop was created for the kids to keep them out of trouble in the post Vietnam years in the Bronx, when drugs and gang violence was running rampant. New York City was a far cry from the relatively safe streets that people enjoy today. Times were hard and Hip-Hop was the savior for a whole generation of people looking to escape the madness and questionable government policies leading into Reagan era.

Take a minute to absorb the words (and video) of one of Hip-Hop’s most iconic figures, The “Father of Hip-Hop,” Kool Herc:

I never called nobody names. When I started to do this right here, it was to see people have fun. Thats it and that’s only it, it’s for the kids. When I did a party, “[They’d say] when is the next joint?” I’m on my bicycle, I play ball, my name came from playing basketball, it didn’t come from playing DJ.

When I got off the court, played my ball game, East-side, West-side, “Yo Herc, when’s you next party?” “I met a girl there,” “I met some people there,” “It was a jam, I met somebody from the Bronx.” So my name was bridging gaps and denting a lot of confusion, to put the Blacks and Puerto Ricans in the same neighborhood. If you don’t understand my language, your language is anarchy and it’s a problem, so best thing to do to diffuse that, was to learn a little bit of the good words in Spanish, and I learned some of the bad words in Spanish. So to be alive, you need to be aware. And that’s all that is. 1967 I came here from Jamaica.

Anyways, you know what I’m saying, they thought that Hip-Hop wasn’t going to last, on down there with the hippity-hop, on down there with the gutter racks. Weeks come into months, months come into years, years come into decades. All I could sum it up and say right now is it’s a continuation of Martin Luther King’s dream. I didn’t know, I was giving shout outs to brothers, fathers and older brothers out there in Vietnam. Not over there right now, and the war still continues with us, the civil war still continues with us and we still get denied, when the thing should be on a holiday. We be laughing and loving what we do with our selves, I got nothing to say about being cute or nothing. I was in my bed seat and had everything working.

And I got something to say, there won’t be no shout outs and yo-yo-yo. It’s about the kids. If I had it my way, and it should be the way, because we done brought Hennessy and all that stuff and made everyone rich, and we still in the gutter. OK, the kids, the kids, they the one that started it. Every kid in the debt should have $50 in their stipend to go and touch it, smell it, whatever. It should be in the stipend. You know we give them $12 for the bus trip and all that, come on, we been making other people rich. It’s no problem in that, but give back to the folks who made it good and that made them rich. So we ain’t gotta come up on the hill.

But remember the biggest climbers take place right here, and the person who did it got shot down here today. Crime Central USA still. We gotta stop killing ourselves, don’t knock another Black man for making money. People should be here right now, man, you know, people should be here right now, enjoying this right now. Why they kill them, for what man, for money? We supposed to love ourselves, man. I’m here because of y’all. I’m not here to be in a camp, I’m in a place called Cheers, where everybody knows your name and they’re glad I came, and I love it, man. Core DJ, keep doing what you are doing man. Thank you everybody, thank you this came from nothing, they didn’t think it would last, and it did last. AND STILL HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION OF THE WORLD…. HIP-HOP Y’ALL!