DJ Kool Herc Says He’s Still #1. Hip-Hop’s Godfather Speaks (Audio)
Despite being credited as the Godfather Of Hip-Hop, DJ Kool Herc never pursued a recording career. While he has spun records for more than 45 years, the 63-year-old Clive Campbell never produced music like other pioneering DJs such as Grandmaster Flash, Afrika Bambaataa, and Grand Wizard Theodore.
In 1994, Herc commanded an interlude on Terminator X’s Super Bad solo album. “Herc’s Message” was one of global Hip-Hop unity, and the call against alcohol and drugs as distractions. He also made speaking appearances on Substantial’s “Sacrifice” album and The Chemical Brothers’ single, “Elektrobank.”
Twenty-five years since his spot on Terminator X’s LP, Herc has a new message. The living legend appears throughout a new album by producer Mr. Green. Last Of The Classic Beats released yesterday (February 15), and features a series of proclamations from the Jamaican-born, Bronx-representing Herc.
On “No Disrespect,” Herc makes no bones about his place in history. Mr. Green, who previously created the Live From The Streets series, asks the DJ who he is. “I’m the guy who created the culture called Hip-Hop—but only I, Kool Herc. No Bambaata, no Flash. I’m not a copycat, no disrespect,” is his response. Those words, demanding sole credit, open the song. Later on the album, on “Brass Tax” (embedded below), Herc declares, “They can’t buy that; they can’t take it away from me, and that’s what they’d like to do. I’m not #2 or #3; I’m #1. I’m A-number-1! I’m king of the hill, top of the heap.”
Herc’s latest message come at a time when there has been considerate debate among the pioneers surrounding the creation of the culture which includes rapping, DJ’ing, breaking, and graffiti.
In 2015, KRS-One and The Rock Steady Crew’s Crazy Legs appeared in a video with Afrika Bambaataa, asserting that Hip-Hop’s history needs to be reexamined. That video published less than six months before several men, including Bronx politician Ronald Savage, publicly alleged that Afrika Bambaataa had molested them when they were underage. Bambaataa subsequently stepped down as leader of the Universal Zulu Nation that he founded amidst these accusations. Meanwhile, Grandmaster Flash has also spoken up against history. In 2017, the former Sugar Hill Records star created a video essay, addressing Kool Herc. While recognizing his peer’s achievements (and decrying Herc’s abilities as a turntablist), Flash demanded greater recognition for his scientific advancements in the element of DJ’ing, including looping records.
Following Herc’s words, Mr. Green lays out a dynamic instrumental. It features knocking drums and some chanting, notably of Spiritual standard, “Kumbaya.” Other messages from the Godfather on Green’s latest endeavor include recognizing the importance of Hip-Hop as a voice for the youth. The Herculoids leader condemns racism in Hip-Hop and scoffs at laptop DJs.
Previously, Mr. Green has linked with dope MCs like Griselda head honcho Westside Gunn, Malik B. of The Roots, Chicago’s Matlock, and Da Outsidaz founders Pacewon and Young Zee for full projects. Last Of The Classic Beats artwork borrows its look and layout from the Incredible Bongo Band’s Bongo Rock LP. This coveted record includes one of the most beloved breaks of all time, “Apache.” It is a record that was played by many of Hip-Hop’s pioneering DJs.
#BonusBeat: “Brass Tax”: