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30 years ago this month hip hop made its way onto vinyl for the very first time. It was the start of a process that would replace the music's original stars, the DJ, with a new one, the MC, who would be rechristened the rapper. This process would allow the music to have the stars that pop marketing campaigns could recognise, and from which international superstars could emerge.

It was on the streets of New York and especially the Bronx that hip hop culture emerged in the previous six or so years. It emerged from a single man, whose DJ-ing style not only created the constituent parts of hip hop, but also for much of the dance music that has dominated musical culture in the last two decades. Clive Campbell was a Jamaican who went by the name of DJ Kool Herc. He started to DJ, influenced by the sound system parties that he had seen in Jamaica before his family moved to New York in 1967. The towering system he created gave him an advantage but he found that island sounds were not popular in the Bronx, where they preferred raw funk. He also discovered that certain parts of records raised the atmosphere in the dance.

When he had the idea to just play these bits, strung together in a section of his set he called the merry-go-round, he had created the breakbeat. His MC-ing over the tunes, in a rhythmic style influenced once more by island systems, formed the basis of rap.


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