"A library book, I imagine, is a happy book." Cornelia Funke

"Everything puts me in mind of a story." Ben Franklin

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

When the Beat Was Born by Laban Carrick Hill

When the Beat Was Born: DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop by Laban Carrick Hill, Illus. by Theodore Taylor III, 2013.

In a few sentences per page, Hill tells the story of music-loving Little Clive, a Jamaican transplanted to New York City. As a teen, he had ambitions to become a house party DJ  like his childhood hero DJ King George. So, he and his sister threw hot parties in the Bronx. He became DJ Kool Herc.  This led to him developing a style in which he would use more than one turntable to make seconds-long breaks in songs last at least twenty minutes. He chanted over the music and called out his friends' names.  His music became super popular, and people, including members of street gangs, began to do athletic break-dancing. He started Hip Hop music, which spawned rap and launched performers such as Sugarhill Gang, Grandmaster Flash and Kurtis Blow.

Hill has included a time line from 1973, when DJ Kool Herc deejayed at his sister's birthday party, to 1986, when the Beastie Boys Licensed to Ill came out, marking the release of mainstream hip hop. There is also a bibliography of books, film and websites for further exploration.

The information is delivered in a picture book format, with lively illustrations by Theodore Taylor III.

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