Jeff Chang (Stanford University)
From What’s That Sound? An Introduction to Rock and its History, Fourth Edition, by John Covach and Andrew Flory (W. W. Norton & Company, 2015)
When Cindy Campbell and her brother Clive “DJ Kool Herc” Campbell threw a party in 1973, they had no idea what they were about to launch. At the end of the summer, they invited a hundred kids and kin to the modest rec room in their apartment building at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx.
Kool Herc started off playing some reggae dancehall tunes on his turntables, similar to the music he had heard at sound system parties in Kingston, Jamaica, where he had lived until the age of twelve. But this was the Bronx. The crowd, at first, wasn’t very happy; they wanted the breaks, the kind of beats that they could move and groove to. So, like any good DJ, Herc gave the people what they wanted, and dropped some soul and funk bombs, songs like James Brown’s “Give It Up or Turnit a Loose,” Mandrill’s “Fencewalk,” and Rare Earth’s “Get Ready.”