Hip Hop fathers -who are the ‘Trinity’ of the genre?

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Hip Hop also known as rap and formerly known as disco rap is one of the most popular music genres in the world. Since its emergence into the music scene over half a century ago, it has weaved its way into the lips of nearly every music lover at some point in their lives. But who are the pioneers of the Hip Hop genre and where did it begin?

The small beginning…Hip Hop fathers

Several people played significant roles to get the Hip Hop genre to its current stage. Many were influential in the genre’s fledgling early years. Regardless, a few names stand out as notable foundation stones for the Hip Hop genre.

DJ Kool Herc

A Jamaican immigrant to the United States, Kool Herc was a master of his own game. He didn’t just move to the United States but moved along with his Jamaican roots ingrained in him. Kool Herc is regarded as the father of Hip Hop and laid its foundation in 1973. He and his sister hosted the “Back to School Jam” at their 1520 Sedgwick Avenue, Bronx, apartment in 1973. It later became known as the foundation for rap/hip-hop.

The notice announcing the details of the Back to School Jam, the party that laid the foundation for Hip Hop

Kool Herc introduced a unique DJing technique called the “breakbeat”, a technique he owes to his Jamaican roots. The technique was adopted from Jamaican dub music. He achieved his breakbeat by playing the same record on two turntables. He then plays the break repeatedly, alternating between the two turntables. Kool christened it The Merry-Go-Round”. It became influential and led the way in promoting rap, hip hop and break dance.

B-Boys Break Dance championed by DJ Kool Herc

Kool Herc used Coke La Rock as the MC for their parties. During one of those parties, Coke La Rock delivered what is now known as the first rap verse and he became the first Hip Hop MC. He said at the party, “There’s not a man that can’t be thrown, not a horse that can’t be rode, a bull that can’t be stopped, there’s not a disco that I Coke La Rock can’t rock”.

Afrika Bambaataa is credited with the name Hip Hop

Another of the early pioneers of rap was Lance Taylor, known as Afrika Bambaataa. A Bronx-based DJ, he is the founder of Universal Zulu Nation, a music group that seeks to promote peace and unity through hip-hop and culture. Afrika Bambaataa was a visionary who guided the youth away from drugs, gang life and crime.

Afrika Bambaataa coined the phrase "Hop Hop"

Together with his Universal Zulu Nation, they introduced youth to what became the four elements of Hip Hop. DJing, breakdancing, rapping, and visual art, Bambaataa called these the four elements of the genre. In 1982, Bambaata and the Soul Sonic Force released one of the early influential hip-hop songs “Planet Rock”. Bambaataa sampled Kraftwerk and used the Roland TR-808 drum machine to create an electronic sound over which they rapped in the song.

Afrika Bambaataa is credited with coining the name Hip Hop in 1974.

Grandmaster Flash…a creative Hip Hop DJ

Another of the early pioneers, Joseph Robert Saddler also known as Grandmaster Flash was one of the influential figures that laid the groundwork for Hip Hop. An innovative and creative DJ, he introduced backspin, cutting, punch phrasing, and scratching DJing techniques.

Grandmaster Flash manning the turntables.

Aside from his DJing skills that helped push the genre, he formed the group Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five in 1976. The group became influential and they are hailed as one of the most successful early Hip Hop acts. Despite producing many hit songs, “The Message” was the most stellar of all. The song exposed the gloomy realities of ghetto life, a shift from the early Hip Hop traits which were traditional rhythmic chants. The Message helped establish rap as a genre and for the first time, it took the front seat among music genres.

In a grand climax to their efforts, Grandmaster Flash and Furious Five became the first Hip Hop acts to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Together, this trio has become what is now known as the “Trinity” Hip Hop/rap. Their creativity, foresight and efforts have laid the foundation for one of music’s now most influential genres.

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