The 55-year-old Herc (born Clive Campbell) is "very sick," according to Sirius XM's DJ Premier, though specifics about his condition have not been released. On his blog today, Premier has urged fans to make donations to Kool Herc via PayPal or regular mail.
Surge Desk hopes Herc makes a full recovery soon, and we've got five facts about the man who changed the way we listen to music.
1. He's credited with inventing the breakbeat
While deejaying at parties in New York in the 1970s, Herc discovered that rooms went wild when he did a trick he called the Merry-Go-Round. This involved isolating a few beat-heavy bars from several records and playing them one after the other. He took this one step further by lining up two copies of the same album on his turntables so he could extend a single break indefinitely.
Watch Kool Herc explain how the Merry-Go-Round worked:
2. He's from the Bronx by way of Jamaica
Herc spent his early years in Kingston, Jamaica, listening to local reggae and dancehall superstars as well as his parents' collection of American records. In 1967, when he was 12, Herc moved to the Bronx, where he immersed himself in New York radio stations and strove to acquire an American accent.
3. His name's short for Hercules
As a student at Alfred E. Smith High, Herc excelled at athletics. Standing over 6 feet tall even as a teenager, he acquired the nickname "Hercules."
4. Hip-hop started at his house
True hip-hop fans know this address by heart: 1520 Sedgwick Ave. That's the high-rise apartment building where Herc lived in the Bronx, and it's where he and his sister Cindy began throwing parties in the summer of 1973. Herc's skills on the turntable lured crowds of teenagers to the building's rec room, where he experimented with the sounds and beats that helped give birth to hip-hop. In 2007 New York declared 1520 Sedgwick "the birthplace of hip-hop," a designation that makes the building eligible for state and national historic place registers.
5. His partner was one of hip-hop's first MCs
Perhaps inspired by the Jamaican tradition of "toasting" (where DJs chanted or rhymed over records), Herc's friend Coke La Rock helped hype the crowd at parties by improvising rhymes over the beats.
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