On this day in 1973, legendary DJ and hip-hop pioneer Kool Herc DJed his sister’s back-to-school party at their high-rise apartment at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx, New York, and the world was never the same again.
To commemorate the 44th anniversary of the officially recognized birthdate of hip-hop, Google has added their signature interactive flair to the latest Google Doodle along with hip-hop luminary Fab 5 Freddy, the first host of the groundbreaking and first internationally telecast hip-hop music video show Yo! MTV Raps. Other fun Google Doodles the company has created in the past include a simple cricket game (played by crickets vs. slugs, naturally), and a cute animation celebrating Mexican lucha libre legend El Santo’s 99th birthday.
Freddy provides a quick hip-hop history lesson, narrating a short video clip animated by Kevin Burke, Pedro Vergani, Hélène Leroux, and Ryan Germick detailing the exploits of DJ Kool Herc and the creation of the signature early sound of hip-hop built on breaks from popular disco and funk records like The Incredible Bongo Band’s “Apache,” and The Winstons’ “Amen, Brother.” Then the fun truly begins, as the doodle transforms into an interactive DJ booth, complete with the hit records that sparked those original basement and house parties back in the ’70s, two turntables and mixer, allowing users to create their own blends with samples from Ohio Players, Prince Paul, Zapp, and Billy Squier.
You can even play with the tempo and scratch the records. There are also unlockable goals that contain cards revealing facts and anecdotes about important hip-hop figures and locales such Sal Abbietello’s Disco Fever club in the South Bronx, the premier performance venue for early stars like Lovebug Starski, Run DMC, and Kurtis Blow.
The project’s executive consultant and partner, Lyor Cohen, former head of Def Jam Records and currently Youtube’s Global Head of Music, also provided some backstory and insight into the project on the Google Doodle homepage, which you can check out below while you play around with the virtual ones-and-twos on Google.com
“Yes, yes ya’ll! And it don’t stop!” Today we acknowledge and celebrate a cultural revolution that’s spanned 44 years and counting. It all started in the NYC Bronx, more commonly known as the Boogie Down Bronx. Following the fallout from the construction of the Cross Bronx Expressway in 1972 that demolished a lot of the neighborhood, times were particularly tough. The youth needed an outlet – a unifying sound, a beat, a voice to call their own. The Bronx DJ’s and MC’s rose to the task and the city loved them for it.
Hip-hop was accessible. A kid with little means and hard work could transform their turntable into a powerful instrument of expression (also illustrating hip hop’s technical innovation). Starting with folks like DJ Kool Herc, DJ Hollywood, and Grandmaster Flash, the grassroots movement created a new culture of music, art, and dance available to the 5 boroughs of the city and beyond…
Hip-hop was disruptive. Ultimately, to me, it shows that people in any situation have the ability to create something powerful and meaningful. The progression of this culture and sound — from Kool Herc spinning James Brown breaks at a block party to Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Drake being some of the biggest forces in music 44 years later — is something that few people at that first party could have anticipated.
…Hip-hop has done exactly what its founders set out to do, whether wittingly or unwittingly. It placed an accessible culture, relatable to any marginalized group in the world, at the forefront of music. In that spirit, here’s to BILLIONS of people getting a brief reminder that “Yes, yes ya’ll! And it WON’T stop!”