History of hip-hop Google Doodle lets you DJ iconic tracks on a virtual turntable
Hip-hop is more than just a music genre; it caused a cultural revolution and today’s Google Doodle goes some way to celebrating the impact it has had over the past four decades.
When you visit the Google homepage today, you will see an animated video explaining more about the history of hip-hop before being given the chance to try your hand at mixing on a turntable.
History of hip-hop
As the video explains, hip-hop is typically traced back to a set from Jamaican-American DJ Kool Herc at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx on 11 August 1973. The Cross Bronx Expressway demolished a lot of the neighbourhood a year earlier, and music was a way for the community to come together.
During his set, Kool Herc played instrumental sections, known as “breaks”, for longer to give the crowd longer to dance. This dance later became known as break dancing and these breaks were typically sections of the songs that the crowd “went wild to,” according to YouTube’s global head of music Lyor Cohen (former head of Def Jam Records).
During these breaks, Coke La Rock “hyped up the crowd” with a microphone, a role which became known as an MC or master of ceremonies.
It was breaks like these that Kanye West became famous for in the mid-1990s which later attracted the attention of Jay-Z.
Today’s hip-hop history Google Doodle features a custom logo by graffiti artist Cey Adams, interactive turntables on which users can mix samples from tracks, and the introductory video narrated by Fab 5 Freddy, former host of Yo! MTV Raps.
The turntable features a crossfader to let you mix beats by dragging it from left to right. Records can be found by clicking the record player icon in the bottom-right-hand corner, and the record collection features beats from early hip-hop artists including DeBarge, Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five, and Prince Paul.
You can scroll through these records on the right-hand side of the record box and select a track by clicking the record. You can then choose which turntable to put the record on. Use your mouse to move the tracks and “scratch” the records. There is also a BMP (beats per minute) button on the left.
“Hip-hop was accessible,” said Cohen. “A kid with little means and hard work could transform their turntable into a powerful instrument of expression (also illustrating hip-hop’s technical innovation).
“Starting with folks like DJ Kool Herc, DJ Hollywood and Grandmaster Flash, the grassroots movement created a new culture of music, art,and dance available to the five boroughs of the city and beyond.”
He continued that hip-hop was also a rebellion against disco that many in the community felt had overshadowed the works of James Brown and other soul acts from the 1960s.
“Hip-hop was disruptive,” continued Cohen. “It shows that people in any situation have the ability to create something powerful and meaningful. The progression of this culture and sound is something few people at that first party could have anticipated.
“Hip-hop has done exactly what its founders set out to do, whether wittingly or unwittingly. It placed an accessible culture, relatable to any marginalised group in the world, at the forefront of music.”