Activist Kevin Powell Talks Kool Herc, Hip-Hop, And Healthcare

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By: Mikey Fresh / February 3, 2011

From Kevin Powell’s blog:

I can’t even remember the first instance I heard the name “Kool Herc,” but I am fairly certain it was during the mid to late 1980s. Ronald Reagan was president, Jesse Jackson was, well, different, a new jack filmmaker named Spike Lee was stirring the pot called Hollywood, and I was a young and avid “hiphop head.”

Ever since I digested the boom-bap strands of hiphop in the late 1970s in my native Jersey City, New Jersey (my hometown’s local hiphop heroes was a crew called Sweet, Slick, and Sly) I was hooked. The Sugar Hill Gang’s landmark song “Rapper’s Delight,” which I would later learn plagiarized lyrics from Grandmaster Caz of the legendary Cold Crush Brothers, was the shot heard ‘round the world. Kurtis Blow was hiphop’s first solo superstar. Afrika Bambaataa was the spiritual and musical emissary from funk and soul to hiphop. Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five spoke so poignantly to my then-ghetto existence that I cried, hard, the first time I heard “The Message.” And Run-DMC was for us bboys and bgirls what The Beatles had been for screaming White teens two decades earlier.

Fitted Lee Jeans with stitched creases, suede Pumas, Le Tigre shirts, Kangols, name belts, baseball caps with sketched designs in the front folded on top with paper stuffed inside thus the caps floated on our heads like royal crowns, magic markers in our front or back pockets so we could tag our names here there everywhere (my tag was my nickname, “kepo1”), and so many of us popping locking breaking moonwalking doing the Pee Wee Herman the trot the wop the smurf the running man. We had no idea we were in the middle of a cultural revolution, but that is exactly what it was. And I am sure most of us did not know it was Kool Herc who kick-started the whole thing.-Kevin Powell

Read the full entry at Kevin Powell.net