As I perused the shelves of the NOLA public library downtown, I stumbled upon what has to be the best picture storybook cover and title ever. A children's book dedicated to the story of Kool Herc and the roots of hip hop. Yes. Yes. Yes. The title is great, but the cover art is what really hooked me. An illustration of Kool Herc, needle in one hand and platter in the other, head crooked to the side, headphones on one ear, presumably matching or listening for a breakbeat. Beautiful. Seeing this added on to my experience with picture books over the course of this semester-they literally touch on every subject. The author, Laban Hill, has penned three other works that deal with African American cultural issues from slavery to the Harlem Renaissance. The book is graced by the artistry of Theodore Taylor III, who makes his picute book debut. The illustrations are really what sell the book to me. Each work covers two full pages, employing a warm color scheme that really works to draw you in. They follow the text closely but offer so much more than being supplemental visuals. Each are great works unto themselves, and I found myself getting lost in them before I read the text. They have great detail, and the characters bring the story to life with a bit more realist version of graffiti-style cartoons. The use of perspective is very pronounced, creating sharp angles that when viewed from a distance almost take the form of old-school block letters used in the early days of graffiti writing, and I can't help but think that this is the artist's intent. The text tells the story of Clive 'Kool Herc" Campbell and his contribution to the very roots of what ultimately came to be known as hip hop music. We're given a glimpse into Herc's life from his beginnings in Kingston to his teenage years and beyond in the Bronx. As a physically large kid who had basketball skills that he likened to Cool Clyde Frazier, the kids on the streets called him Cool Hercules, shortened down to Kool Herc. Outside of sports, Herc also loved music, and spent much of his time emulating the style of DJs that he was around as a child in Jamaica. Herc started doing house and block parties around the Bronx, and he found that the most dancing was done during the breaks of the songs, when the lyrics stopped and just the beats played through. What Herc began doing was to take two turntables and hook them together with a crossfader that would transfer the sound from one turntable to the other. He then took two copies of the same song, one on each table, and could play only the breaks on each record over and over without stopping the beat. Basic, elemental hip hop DJing. The roots of it all! His parties became the rage all over the Bronx and set the groundwork for what would become an entire music culture. Although the book tells a great story with great artwork, the significance lies in the fact that it tells the story of someone who all too often gets overlooked. As hip hop constantly evolves, the roots of the music get more and more blurred, and it's very easy to focus on rappers as the base of everything. They're the stars; it's their faces and voices that are remembered. However, no one would be rapping without the efforts and the sweat of the DJ, and Herc was the pioneer of pioneers.
About This Item
A John Steptoe New Talent Award Winner
Before there was hip hop, there was DJ Kool Herc.
On a hot day at the end of summer in 1973 Cindy Campbell threw a back-to-school party at a park in the South Bronx. Her brother, Clive Campbell, spun the records. He had a new way of playing the music to make the breaks—the musical interludes between verses—longer for dancing. He called himself DJ Kool Herc and this is When the Beat Was Born. From his childhood in Jamaica to his youth in the Bronx, Laban Carrick Hill's book tells how Kool Herc came to be a DJ, how kids in gangs stopped fighting in order to breakdance, and how the music he invented went on to define a culture and transform the world.
Coretta Scott King - John Steptoe Award for New Talent
Roaring Brook Press
|Number of Pages|
Laban Carrick Hill
When the Beat Was Born - Picture Book
|Assembled Product Dimensions (L x W x H)|
10.04 x 10.12 x 0.40 Inches
Customer reviews & ratings
As I perused the shelv...
This entertaining hist...
This entertaining historical nonfiction picture book tells about the creation of hip hop. I found this book to be extremely enjoyable due to the detailed imagery and interesting facts and details. The main idea of this picture book is to tell about how music has changed over the years and always blends to create something new.
The artwork in this pi...
The artwork in this picture book will blow you away as you learn about the history of hip hop. The great thing about this book is it tells the story of a figure that is often overlooked and forgotten by outside society mostly through amazing art. Students interested in poetry and music will find this story engaging and informative.
Great story about how ...
Great story about how Jamaican-born DJ Kool Herc created Hip Hop in the Bronx in the early 1970s.
This book is a book wr...
This book is a book written about a boy named Clive. He grew up in a neighborhood in Kingston, Jamaica. This book tells all above Clive's journey as a kid moving from Somerset to the Bronx and what influenced his path to become a DJ. In the end there is an authors note that tells a lot more about him along with an actual timeline. The illustrations in this book are done well and they tell a story without the words. After reading this with two students, they absolutely loved it. I noticed them staring at the pictures and pointing things out while we read the book a lot. The books read very fluidly while informing the reader about new things they probably didn't know.
Get specific details about this product from customers who own it.
Ask a question