The Story Of Hip-Hop’s Creation Is Being Re-Examined By Some Of Its Most Respected Pioneers (Video)
Editor’s Note: The first edition of this story credited Crazy Legs as Rock Steady Crew founder. It has been brought to Ambrosia For Heads’ attention that Crazy Legs is in fact the president of the organization. The mistake has been corrected, in the story below:
Last night (November 2), Crazy Legs, president of the Rock Steady Crew, shared a video on his Facebook. At the pioneering B-Boy’s home, a gathering took place of Afrika Bambaataa, KRS-One, and the Universal Zulu Nation co-founder’s Amad Henderson. Writing that the discussions are “a work in progress,” Crazy Legs told a camera, “[We been talking about] how to properly document Hip-Hop, and realizing that in order to properly document Hip-Hop for the future, you have to understand how we have been documented, as a people—and why that has caused such a dysfunction when it comes to respecting each other’s perspectives and contributions within Hip-Hop,” explained the legendary dancer born Richard Colon, moments after a private discussion concluded. “That’s what I’m takin’ from this; there’s a quite a few other things that were brought up.”
“This was a historical meeting; we needed this,” said KRS-One, speaking to a camera. “We are aware that there are many people that are concerned with the history of Hip-Hop that I’m teaching, the history that others are teaching as well. Some are concerned, as well, about ‘The Father of Hip-Hop,’ ‘The Godfather of Hip-Hop,’ the creation of Hip-Hop, dates, and so on. That’s why Crazy Legs caused this meeting, between ourselves here: Amad [Henderson], KRS-One, Afrika Bambaataa, Crazy Legs—to begin a discussion about what should Hip-Hop’s history be, now that we’ve lived it for 40 years, and we know that there were more players involved than just [DJ] Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa, and [Grandmaster] Flash.”
All Bronx, New York based DJs, Kool Herc (born Clive Campbell), Afrika Bambaataa (born Kevin Donovan), and Grandmaster Flash (born Joseph Saddler) are often credited as Hip-Hop’s founding fathers. On his own website, Kool Herc is listed as the culture’s founder.
“We also realize that Afrika Bambaataa’s [story] is a little more complex than the history [what is available] out there. Taking nothing away from anybody else, Afrika Bambaataa has set down the elements of Hip-Hop–the original four elements,” continued KRS, elaborating on DJ’ing, MC’ing, breaking, and graffiti (along with over-standing and knowledge), before also stating the tenants of peace, love, unity, and having fun. “We all have to humble ourselves to the perspective of the founder.”
“Now it was Bam’, we realize, that gave Kool Herc his accolades. Herc, of course, can speak for himself. We know this. And we know the story of Herc and (Kool Herc’s sister) Cindy [Campbell], and it’s part of Hip-Hop’s folklore. We know Grandmaster Flash’s story; I still stand by the fact that Flash invented the cross-fader. But we can of course debate that, and this is really what history is all about, ’cause some of what was said—even to me—was wrong.” The Boogie Down Productions co-founder elaborated that he wishes to include the valuable contributions of names such as Disco King Mario, Mandingo, El Marco, Pete “DJ” Jones, Kool D, Smokey in the common Hip-Hop history. “These are other figures that were left out of Hip-Hop’s history because our history was basically documented through rappers, Rap artists, and videos, and fanzine magazines. We were young. Hip-Hop was happening. We are Hip-Hop, so we wasn’t documenting ourselves. We were being ourselves. Now we’re all men our women now; we’re all adults, parents, professionals now, and it’s time to get Hip-Hop’s history straight.” Referring to Afrika Bambaataa as “the father,” KRS-One allowed the Soulsonic Force front man to speak. In a rhyme delivery, Bam’ listed a number of pioneering MCs, DJs, and areas of New York City. He explained, “We are gonna document our own story. For it cannot be a mystery, it be our history—the true history, which makes it true school.”
In August of 2013, Afrika Bambaataa, also a Universal Zulu Nation co-founder, released a statement regarding a perceived difference between Herc and him, with respect to the timeline and creation of Hip-Hop. “To anybody who thought they were causing friction, it’s not happening. Kool Herc is my brother. To the Hip-Hop communities worldwide, let’s focus on the positive things concerning Hip-Hop. We still need music programs for kids in our schools, after school program incentives, morning programs for our elders, healthcare for Hip-Hoppers and communities of disconnected people worldwide,” Bam told AllHipHop.com.
Making it clear that causing friction was not the intent in this 2015 plan, Crazy Legs added, “Keep in mind, this isn’t about shutting anyone’s perspective down.” The Bronx, New York native compared any possible misnomers for himself and others to all childhood memories, “We tend to exaggerate out of what has happened. It’s because it was a beautiful moment for us. We get it. I lived it. I know what it’s like.”
Afrika Bambaataa looked to cameras with the closing and seeming benediction, “No egos, and peace, love, unity, and having fun.”
Related: Afrika Bambaataa Will Receive a Lifetime Achievement Award For Helping to Birth Hip-Hop