Hip Hop 50th Anniversary Countdown: Year 1 -- 1973

Explore the origins of hip-hop, its birth in 1973, the revolutionary role of DJ Kool Herc, and how this genre became a cultural milestone.

BYJake Skudder
hip hop

On August 11, 1973, in the heart of the Bronx, a new cultural movement was brewing. This was the day when the distinct elements of rapping, deejaying, and dancing started to coalesce into a unified art form that we now recognize as hip-hop. It emerged from a shared environment, where these art forms organically evolved, drawing energy from the bustling streets and vibrant communities.

The Genesis: DJ Kool Herc

DJ Kool Herc, looking through his records, DJing, Blackpool, UK 07.10.2000. (Photo by Henry Iddon/PYMCA/Avalon/Getty Images)

The first major hip-hop deejay, DJ Kool Herc, born as Clive Campbell, stands as the pioneering force behind this genre. An 18-year-old immigrant from Jamaica, he brought the powerful sound systems of his native country to the urban parties of New York. His innovative approach to music would forever change the world.

Read More: Rakim Is Taking The “Lid Off Hip Hop” With Sprite For The Culture’s 50th

DJ Kool Herc's Revolution: Two Turntables

NEW YORK - JUNE 14: Hip-Hop musician DJ Kool Herc performs on the steps of the Brooklyn Public Library's Central Branch on June 14, 2008 Grand Army Plaza in New York. The concert is a part of "The Library Rocks" concert series. (Photo by Al Pereira/WireImage)

DJ Kool Herc used two turntables to create a continuous flow of music, a revolutionary concept at the time. He cleverly fused percussive fragments from older records with popular dance songs, creating an innovative musical tapestry. This method resulted in a rhythmic and energetic sound, captivating audiences and laying the foundation for the hip-hop genre.

The Evolution of Hip Hop Post-1973

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA FEBRUARY 5: 65th GRAMMY AWARDS An array of rappers perform a tribute to the 50th anniversary of hip hop at the 65th Grammy Awards, held at the Crytpo.com Arena on February 5, 2023. -- (Photo by Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

DJ Kool Herc is widely credited for the genesis of hip-hop in 1973. However, it's crucial to acknowledge the countless artists who contributed to its evolution post-1973. These individuals, inspired by Herc's innovative techniques, went on to experiment and diversify the genre. As a result, the genre developed into a multi-dimensional and globally recognized art form, resonating with diverse audiences around the world.

Read More: Lil Wayne, Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, & More To Perform At Hip Hop 50 Live

Hip Hop 1973: A Cultural Milestone

American hip hop duo Eric B. (right) and Rakim walking across 14th Street in New York City, circa 1989. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

The creation of the genre in 1973 didn't just mark the birth of a new musical genre; it symbolized a cultural revolution. It gave voice to the experiences, struggles, and triumphs of urban communities, providing a platform for expression and storytelling. Since its inception, hip-hop has continued to shape and reflect societal narratives, underscoring its significance beyond music.


Reflecting on the birth of hip-hop in 1973, we pay homage to DJ Kool Herc and the vibrant Bronx community. Their groundbreaking contributions gave rise to a genre that has profoundly influenced popular culture. Even beyond that: fashion, language, and even politics over the decades.

As we celebrate hip-hop's 50th anniversary this year, we recognize it not just as a genre, but as a cultural movement that continues to reverberate across generations and borders.

While the genre has undoubtedly evolved since 1973, its origins in the Bronx remain central to its identity. Hip-hop, at its core, remains a powerful expression of resilience, creativity, and community – a legacy that started with DJ Kool Herc on that transformative night in August 1973.

Read More: What Is Boom Bap? A Defining Sound Of Hip Hop

  • Link Copied to Clipboard!
About The Author
Jake is the SEO Content Lead for HotNewHipHop. He has more than ten years of experience covering mixed martial arts, pro wrestling, gaming and music across a number of publications, starting at SEScoops in 2012 under the name Jake Jeremy. His work has also been featured on GiveMeSport, Sportskeeda, Pro Sports Extra, Wrestling Headlines, NoobFeed, Wrestlingnewsco and Keen Gamer, again under the name Jake Jeremy. Previously, he worked as the Editor in Chief of 24Wrestling, building the site’s profile with a view to selling the domain, which was accomplished in 2019. As well as his work for HNHH, Jake is also the Editor in Chief for Fight Fans, a combat sports and pro wrestling site that was launched in January 2021 and broke into the millions of pageviews within the first two years. Jake also previously worked for the biggest independent wrestling company in the UK, PROGRESS Wrestling, as PR Head and Head of Media across the company's social channels. Jake's favourite Hip Hop artists are Kendrick Lamar, Public Enemy, The Beastie Boys and Body Count.