Clark Kent Says Hip-Hop Owes Kool Herc & It’s Time To Pay Up

Earlier this week, on August 11, Hip-Hop celebrated its 48th birthday. On August 11, 1973, DJ Kool Herc (aka Clive Campbell) threw a back-to-school party with his sister Cindy Campbell. The event took place at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in New York’s Bronx borough. Behind the turntables, Herc prolonged the break section of the records he played, extending the moment for dancers and party-goers. That innovation, along with that dancing (or breakin’), graffiti, and MC’ing, cemented Hip-Hop as we know it. Forty-eight years later, the events of that party have prompted the US Senate to honor it as a holiday. Billionaires have emerged out of a culture that has molded a changing world.

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DJ Clark Kent has been a fixture of Hip-Hop for over 30 years. The Brooklyn, New York representative followed in Herc’s footsteps to the turntables and party-rocking. “One thing I will be doing until my life stops is I will be DJ’ing—all the time,” Clark recently told Ambrosia For Heads in a conversation about 50 Cent’s latest Power spinoff, Power Book III: Raising Kanan. Besides spinning, Clark Kent has produced iconic records for JAY-Z and Biggie Smalls, Junior M.A.F.I.A., Rakim, and others. He has been a figurehead of Hip-Hop fashion and sneaker culture and one of the most trusted ears in the music industry.

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However, in a previously unpublished part of the conversation, the respected veteran spoke candidly about how Hip-Hop can better serve its founder. “Here’s my thought pattern: you’ve got a guy like Kool Herc. He is the Godfather of Hip-Hop, right. And then you’ve got a guy like you, who grew up loving Hip-Hop, right. And you’re doing what you’re doing, and you’re living, fine. And I look at him, and I think without him, you don’t have a culture. And then I think he’s [not living as he should be],” Clark Kent said of Herc, who, unlike other pioneering DJs, did not pursue a recording career. “That says to me that our culture doesn’t cultivate itself. So whenever I get the ability—if someone ever asks me a question, I’m gonna speak from a culture-teaching perspective. Because if I don’t teach the culture to the culture, it won’t cultivate itself. So a guy like Kool Herc will get lost. It’ll be said that he’s the Godfather of Hip-Hop, but he won’t be living like he is [the Godfather].” As Hip-Hop praises ownership and legacy, Kool Herc is not being compensated for his immense contributions. “[Think] if every single person, whoever liked Hip-Hop donated one dollar to a Kool Herc fund—think of how easy that would be that would be for him to never [have to] think about money again.”


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Clark Kent further emphasized his point. “[DJ Kool Herc] gave us a culture. He gave us a way of life. That’s insane when you think about it.” Moments later, he stressed his position. “The honor is to be asked these questions. So I’m going to do my best to answer from a place that protects our culture.”

Maintaining the one-dollar donation model, Clark Kent alleged how easy it could be. “To me, it doesn’t really sound that crazy. I just think if every person who had ever been affected by Hip-Hop—if you got a Rap record in your house, donate a dollar. Just a dollar. Every person who Rap has touched, donate a dollar. If the culture has touched you, donate one dollar to a Kool Herc fund.” Amid a year where so many Hip-Hop artists, photographers, and stakeholders passed away, Clark Kent made his point clear. “He would never be sick in the hospital and not have funds. I think it’s like a tragedy. [Kool Herc is] the reason there’s a Raising Kanan.”

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While speaking with AFH, Clark Kent confirmed that he has upcoming shoe works and something for the DJ space. However, the producer of “Brooklyn’s Finest” revealed that he is returning to the boards. “I’m rebuilding the studio and going back in the studio again to start producing new artists.”