Hip Hop Turns 40

The cultural force known as Hip-Hop turned 40 years old this week.  Joey Spehar of The Morning Mix was joined by local Hip-Hop artists Marcus Vaughn and Warren Parker of Lucid Music to discuss some of the most important moments in Hip-Hop history.

The origin of hip-hop can be traced back to a birthday party in the Bronx August 11, 1973.  DJ Kool Herc invented what’s known as “the break,” which would become an instrumental tool for the genre.  “The break is any part of a record where all the instruments drop out except for the drums.  What he [DJ Kool Herc] would do is get two records of the same and play them.  But he would play one part it would play the break and he’d spin the other record and it would transfer it over and play the other break and it would keep going back and forth.  So the break would play without stopping.  That was basically the sweet spot for all the B-Boys to get down in the circle.  That really got things going with break dancing,” explains Parker. Over forty years later the breaks are still a large part of hip-hop music.  “I think as far as hip-hop production that really [breaks] set the tone for the way hip-hop was made as far as the continuous drums.  Just the ongoing sound where people could rhyme over it, I think that really shaped the sound of hip-hop,” adds Parker.

Another monumental moment in hip-hip history can be traced back to the release of the SP-1200, a classic drum machine and sampler.  The SP-1200 made it possible to create breaks without using two turntables.  “Some of the most significant songs was made with that, like “T.R.O.Y (They Reminisce Over You)” from Pete Rock.  People don’t use it too much anymore but I think that was a important thing.  From ‘86 like up to the 90s it shaped the golden era of hip hop we all know,’” explains Vaughn.  “A lot of classic albums have been made with that piece of equipment.   That’s another thing that kind of revolutionized the way hip-hop sounds as far as what you could do with it and the samples.  It’s a classic piece of machinery, hip-hop wouldn’t be here without the SP,” adds Parker.

After getting both of Marcus Vaughn and Warren Parker’s most important moments in hip-hop history, Joey gave a moment of his own, the collaboration between Aerosmith and Run DMC on “Walk This Way.”  “I was still fairly young at the time, but I remember hearing it.  I’m pretty sure it was the first time that genres crossed over like that, so it made so people could do it to this day,” adds Parker.

The growth of hip-hop was not limited to just the music, movies did their share as well. “Some of the original really hip-hop movies like Wild Style and Breakin’ and Beat Street, when those came out that really said something.  That really said woah hip-hop is here to stay.  I think people thought that hip-hop was going to be like disco or something like that, it’s going to be here for a for a few years and then disappear.  But when those movies came out I think it really introduced it to the mainstream.  I learned a lot by those, when I was young I was transfixed by them,” explains Parker.

Joey, Marcus, and Warren finish up their recap of hip-hop’s history with a discussion  of the future of the genre.  When asked what the future of hip-hop is going to yield Marcus replied, “I think hip-hop is always going to be here.  I feel like that in some shape or form it always be here and it’s going to keep changing.  There will always be people making quality hip-hop. Hip-hop will always be here,” adds Vaughn and Parker.  So here’s to another 40 years of hip-hop music!