On a hot summer night in the Bronx in 1973, DJ Kool Herc (then known by his given name, Clive Campbell) changed music forever. At his sister's back-to-school party on August 11—44 years ago today—he introduced what's since become recognized as hip-hop to an extremely enthusiastic audience. "Once they heard that, there was no turning back," the pioneer told New York magazine. "They always wanted to hear breaks after breaks after breaks."
Google is highlighting this landmark moment in hip-hop history today with a Google Doodle celebrating the 44th anniversary of the birth of hip-hop, and it’s actually really cool (and an excellent diversion for a slow summer Friday).
Narrated by the legendary Fab 5 Freddy, the Doodle starts with a short video introducing the history of the party that started it all. It then segues into into a virtual turntable set-up where you can play around with different records (including oft-sampled ones from The Incredible Bongo Band and The Winstons) and learn about the breaks.
The party happened at 1520 Sedgewick Avenue, a Mitchell-Lama building in Morris Heights that’s still standing. While there isn’t a plaque or other marker that makes the building’s historic significance clear, it was recognized in 2007 by the State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation as the birthplace of hip-hop. And it’s well known among hip-hop aficionados, many of whom make pilgrimages to the site.
It’s also one of the sites included on Hush Tours’ Birthplace of Hip-Hop bus tour, which visits different points from hip-hop history, with artists like Grandmaster Caz and Kurtis Blow leading the way. And while two different museums devoted to the pioneering artists who created hip-hop are in the works—there’s the Universal Hip-Hop Museum in the Bronx, and the Hip Hop Hall of Fame Museum in Harlem—those tours are, for now, one of the best ways to immerse yourself in the history of this groundbreaking genre. (And they just so happen to be leading a few of ‘em this weekend.)
You can check out the Google Doodle video, with Fab 5 Freddy’s narration, below: