When the beat was born

When the Beat Was Born: DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop By Laban Carrick Hall, Illustrated by Theodore Taylor III (2013) – hardcover

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When the Beat Was Born tells the true story of Jamaican immigrant DJ Kool Herc and how he created the sounds of hip hop. Known today as the “Father of Hip Hop,” Campbell was inspired by the hyped and rambunctious DJs he saw as a kid in Jamaica. From this moment on, he was infatuated with music and its power to make people dance and feel good! At age 12, he emigrated with his family to the Bronx, NY. Out of their housing project, he and his sister Cindy started hosting dance parties that soon drew major crowds. Herc recognized that people would “dance crazy hard” during the “break” of a song. So he hooked up two turntables which allowed him to mix two records at once and prolong the most popular parts of a song. And the rest, as they say, is history! 

Author Laban Carrick Hill packs years worth of history into this children’s book! Kids will learn about DJ Kool Herc’s early music influences, how he came up with his DJ name, and how he was able to attract huge crowds. Herc and his legacy became an inspiration for future DJ heavyweights, including Grandmaster Flash, Afrika Bambaataa, and Jazzy Jeff. His story as a Jamaican immigrant who went on to become the “Father of Hip Hop” is sure to inspire any young musician. Hill includes some wonderful bonus content for further exploration, including an “Author’s Note,” a “Hip Hop History” timeline, and a select bibliography. 

Take-away message: Music is a universal language! DJ Kool Herc created something that unified even the most hardened street gangs in his neighborhood. Little did he know that he was creating what was to become one of the greatest cultural revolutions in history! 

TAGS: Jamaican, Black, male lead, Notable POC, hardcover 

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