Monday, January 31, 2011


Over the past few days, news has been spreading from news links, social media, and blogs about illness affecting Clive Campbell, the Jamaican-born icon known to the hip hop world as DJ Kool Herc.  It's a sad state of affairs because the troubles of Kool Herc are tied in to this ongoing health care reform debate.  From my understanding, Kool Herc is in need of immediate surgery and medical attention, and unfortunately, there is no health insurance for this strong pioneer.  So goes the proverbial hip hop story.  Record labels operate moreso as banks instead of musical partnerships, so it is something very rare indeed if an artist has insurance from a label standpoint.  Kool Herc is no different than the independent contractor who is self-employed, and may forego insurance coverage to handle a multitude of other bills or expenses, or just can't afford coverage.

This is a travesty on so many levels, because hip hop is a culture built on respect and history, and no other figure in the hip hop world deserves more respect.  Do the knowledge when it comes to Clive Campbell, his historic 1520 Sedgwick Avenue address, which is regarded as the focal birthplace of a culture I love, and how countless individuals have been influenced by him.  If you don't know, here are some basics, and I hope this gives you the impetus to find out more information about this very positive figure.  Born April 16, 1955 in Kingston, Jamaica, Kool Herc was surrounded and influenced by the sounds of local sound systems, and brought this musical aesthetic to Bronx, New York at the age of twelve.  His name was derived from being tagged as "Hercules" because of his stature and build, even at an early age.  The name Kool Herc was given to him once he joined a local Bronx graffiti crew called the Ex-Vandals, according to urban lore.  With the rugged nature of living in the urban jungle at the time, music was something that Kool Herc couldn't shake.  At some point, Herc, and his sister Cindy Campbell, started hosting parties at the infamous address that is highly regarded as hip hop's birthplace, 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in the Morris Heights section of Bronx, New York.  August 11, 1973 is the date credited as the unofficial date that ignited the hip hop fuse.  At that legendary recreation room party, Herc was spinning tunes that may have ranged from James Brown, The Jimmy Castor Bunch, Booker T & The MG's, and countless other joints.  The difference-maker for DJ Kool Herc was that he innovated and pioneered a style that up to that point wasn't showcased, highlighting and isolating "breaks" within the songs, pivotal points within a record where a bare percussive beat was played by the drummer, and Herc would backspin double copies of the same record to extend the beat, giving birth to the breakbeat for dancers to showcase the latest 70's dance moves.  Looking back, that blueprint is responsible for how true dj's rock a party in the 80's, 90's, and into the 21st century.  I guarantee there are a multitude of stories and events that can be highlighted as benchmarks within the hip hop diaspora when speaking of DJ Kool Herc.  I will write a much more comprehensive story on Kool Herc, because right now the important notion is helping out this brother, just as you may want to help out a family member.  He IS a family member, from the Hip Hop Family.

What my charge is for the hip hop community, and individuals in general, is to research first, then assist in whatever means possible.  There is a fund set up accepting donations, according to credible sources within the culture.  Donations can be sent to the following address:

P.O. BOX 20472

PayPal payments can also be forwarded to the sister of Kool Herc, Cindy Campbell.  The e-mail address for PayPal payments is the following:  I implore the hip hop community here in Baltimore, DC, Virginia, North Carolina, and beyond to donate and help.  Whatever you are able to help with, I am sure would be greatly appreciated.  No slight to new age celebrities such as Ted Williams and Antoine Dodson, but if individuals can garner endorsements and monies from relatively short-lived celebrity, why can't those that have devoted a great portion of their life to a culture that is responsible for an unfathomable amount of revenue for record companies and their ilk.  No being on a high horse or pedestal from me, because I am just as responsible as any of those making millions and millions from a culture that has been used, raped, and sometimes left for dead.  However, hip hop culture is resilient, as is DJ Kool Herc.  Show this dynamic brother that we all indeed love him and want him to continue, with God's grace, as the innovator and pioneer he is within the hip hop landscape. 


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