On August 11, 1973, an 18-year-old with stereo equipment and a big collection of vinyl records was asked by his younger sister to DJ a party she was throwing in part to raise money for her back to school clothes. The teenager, DJ Kool Herc, brought two copies of James Brown’s 1970 album, Sex Machine, then and now one of the best albums to dance to no matter your age, race, or creed. Herc had two turntables and a microphone, and used those to repeatedly loop “Give It Up or Turnit A Loose,” playing the breakdown over and over to a rapturous crowd of local Bronx teenagers.
In terms of cultural significance, this party was Oppenheimer discovering the mashing of atoms making big booms, Newton getting domed by an apple, the Wright Brothers achieving liftoff, a dial tone being converted to the Internet. Hip-Hop was born during a party in a Bronx rec-room, and for these last 50 years, has repeatedly reshaped and reconstituted music, over and over again. VMP celebrates Hip-Hop every month, but this month we especially recognize DJ Kool Herc inventing the music we all love out of nothing but what he could get his hands on in 1973.