The fluctuations in format that naturally stem from ever-advancing technology seem to play a larger role than one may realize, in determining the overall climate, even culture, of particular time periods in hip hop music.
DJ Kool Herc was first to isolate and elongate what is now known as the break, beginning the proliferation of sample culture as we know it today. That was August of ’73. The members of Chic didn’t hear that their familiar hit Good Times had been looped up by The Sugarhill Gang ’til it had already been on the radio, just after the summer of ’79. From when Herc set it off ’til hip hop first met wax, all sorts of creative people were busy honing their craft at home and in the streets. By ’77 some of the live park jams started to get recorded and passed around the projects, dubbed and traded from one giant ghetto blaster to the next. These boomboxes would sit outside a speaker set to record, which sounded great when listening to the mix, but not so good once the MC got on the mic. The tapes made from these sessions remain largely hidden, lost, destroyed, or forgotten to this day, still shrouded in mystery, guarded like cherished religious texts or any historical artifact. Fragments are therefore treasured as precious, regardless of quality. And so the first half dozen years of hip hop music, the roots of the culture, remain largely buried, lost to the sands of time. What’s left behind however, is the stuff of myth and legend. Conflicting, juxtaposing stories, filled to the brim with details of who started what, the way it was, and how it all became the way we know it to be today. (more…)