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On this day in history: Happy birthday, hip hop!

Posted at 8:32 PM, Aug 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-11 22:51:16-04

THE BRONX, N.Y. – If you saw today’s Google Doodle, you were probably wondering why there was a turntable on the search engine’s home page. August 11 is the 44th anniversary of the birth of the newest reigning musical genre (along with R&B), hip hop!

While it’s often difficult to pinpoint the exact date of the emergence of musical genres, the birth of hip hop is widely attributed to a famous party that went down in the Bronx. In 1973, Jamaican-American DJ Clive Campbell, who went by the name Kool Herc, threw a back-to-school party at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue.

The real Fab 5 Freddy circa 1983. He narrates Google’s newest doodle that celebrates hip hop’s birthday. (Photo by Laura Levine/IMAGES/Getty Images)

It was an event during this party that would give rise to a new style of music and would change music history forever. During his set, Herc bucked the tradition of playing songs in their entirety. With the keen eye of an innovator and the mind of a true musician, he noticed that the instrumental sections of the songs – the ones that didn’t feature any vocals – seemed to garner the biggest response from the crowd, so he only played these parts, called “the breaks.” (Kurtis Blow made an entire song about it.) While the crowd got down on the dance floor, his friend Coke La Rock took to the nearest microphone and started rhyming over the music. Today, of course, this is what we call “rapping.”

To celebrate this historic day, the minds at Google created a special interactive doodle with YouTube’s Global Head of Music and former head of Def Jam Records Lyor Cohen.

“Hip Hop was disruptive. Ultimately, to me, it shows that people in any situation have the ability to create something powerful and meaningful,” wrote Cohen in a blog post about the project.

The doodle begins with an animated history of the genre and the culture that was inspired by it. Narrated by the legendary Fab 5 Freddy, it offers a tutorial on how to mix and scratch samples from classic funk, disco and soul records – all genres that were crucial to the emergence of this newest style of music.

Even Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, drummer for The Roots and music historian,  loved it.

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44 Years ago #KoolHerc changed your life. By inventing #HipHop. Mad respect to @GoogleDoodle for acknowledging the culture and the pioneers of #Grafiti #Breakdancing #MCn & #Djn (and all the other stops in between) #TheBirthOfHipHop #GoogleDoodle

A post shared by Questlove Froman, (@questlove) on

Hip hop encompasses more than just rap music – it also includes DJing, beatboxing, breakdancing, the style of dress, graffiti and language. It also evolved from just being a unique way to keep people dancing to becoming an outlet to spread awareness of different social issues. While the subculture was started by African Americans, Caribbean Americans and Puerto Ricans, it has resonated with the entire world. Over time styles and influences have changed and new subgenres within the genre have emerged, but the spirit behind it remains the same. It’s still a relatively new genre, but as we’ve seen, it continues to show that it has the ability to progress beyond what anyone ever thought it could have been.

Click here to to read more about the project, view concept art and storyboards from the early stages of animation production and to spin some records.