Jamaican-born DJ Kool Herc was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame on Friday night as he was hailed by many in the industry for his innovation as the founding father of hip-hop music.
Kool Herc, whose real name is Clive Campbell, was acknowledged formally as one of the “greatest founders of hip-hop” by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, which conferred him with the Musical Influence Award.
The event, held at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, on Friday evening, saw many of the industry’s finest artists, musical pioneers, and contributors attending. Rap legend LL Cool J introduced DJ Kool Herc while speaking about how he started what is now a worldwide genre that was created by a Jamaican using elements of dancehall music fused with American R&B.
Kool Herc spoke of the 1973 event hosted by Kool Herc’s sister Cindy Campbell to raise money for back-to-school expenses, the typical way Jamaicans usually do it- with a party charging women .25 cents for women and .50 cents for men.
According to the rapper, Cindy got her back-to-school money, and the world was left with something legendary.
“We don’t know how much money Cindy managed to raise that day or what clothes she was able to buy but we know she changed the course of history, of music history,” LL Cool J said.
“That party has come to be recognized as the birthplace of hip-hop,” the rapper said to resounding applause. “Her brother Clive, better known to the world as DJ Kool Herc, has been justly called the father of Hip Hop.”
According to LL, Kool Herc, born Clive Campbell, was “larger than life in every sense of the word” as his ability to mix and master classic soul and R&B tracks sent the dancefloor into a frenzy.
“So all of New York City know him as DJ Kool Herc. Herc had learned important lessons from dancehall music on toasting that he had heard in his native Kingston, Jamaica…and molded it into a new form of music that evolved into a street culture, – deejaying, rapping, or emceeing, break dancing, graffiti…Herc had his hand in every aspect of Hip Hop that would eventually take over the world,” LL Cool J said.
The rapper also spoke about how hip hop was adopted in music education while hip hop spread across New York City; it attracted many to the genre.
“It’s a culture that changed my life obviously, it changed the lives of millions and millions of people,” LL Cool J said, adding that at the time when hip hop was founded, there was no one – no record labels that believed in the genre but him.
“Arguably, no one made a bigger contribution to hip-hop culture than DJ Kool Herc,” he said.
DJ Kool Herc, dressed smartly in Rastafarian attire, was emotional as he ascended the stairs to accept his award.
“I got tears in my eyes,” he admitted.
He began his speech by recognizing artists like James Brown and Harry Belafonte, who passed away recently, and his parents, Keith and Nettie Campbell, and many of the persons who helped to “build me up,” as well as his sister Cindy, who he said, “deserved some props.”
Cindy also joined the stage after Herc tells her, “Do your thing,” like the true brother-sister duo they are.
.@llcoolj honored the creative genius and boundless innovation of @DjKoolHerc, and his remarkable impact on music history. Stream #RockHall2023 NOW on @DisneyPlus!
?: Getty Images / Rock Hall pic.twitter.com/mk2Oa194TM
— Rock Hall (@rockhall) November 4, 2023
“LL, you gave a heartfelt introduction, thank you, we love you. We always did, and I want to congratulate my brother DJ Kool Herc for staying on that path and getting where he is today. Congratulations to my brother,” Cindy said.
Herc is among several legends to be inducted as the world celebrates hip-hop’s 50th anniversary. The other inductees are the late creator of Soul Train, Don Cornelius, Missy Elliot, who is the first woman from hip hop to be inducted, as well as Rock artists Link Wray and Al Cooper.