Who Invented Rap

Ever wondered who invented rap music? Rap music has its roots in Jamaican folk stories, African rhythm patterns and rhythm and blues music. While it might seem impossible that a single person started such a huge movement, there is one man for whom rap fans can be forever appreciative. Jamaican Clive Campbell, more commonly known as Kool Herc, is the father of rap.

Campbell, who moved from Jamaica to New York City in 1967, worked in dance clubs as a DJ. DJs were becoming more interactive with the dancers at clubs, and Campbell was used to this role from when he DJed back in Jamaican reggae bars. Performing under the name Kool Herc, he started out with shoutouts, mentioning specific dancers during interludes in the music. Kool Herc soon had a following of customers who wanted to dance wherever he was working. The DJ recognized how much the dancers loved his shoutouts, so he began improvising during the instrumental parts of songs, making up rhymes and statements to the beat of the music. He began to experiment with using mixers and multiple record players such that he could extend instrumental segments to accommodate his improvisations.

With these rhymes, a new music art form was born.

The idea took off amongst DJs in New York and in other urban areas, such as Los Angeles and Chicago. DJs competed to provide the most entertaining and elaborate improvisations. Soon musicians took up the challenge, performing live rap segments inside songs they performed. As the trend grew in popularity, more and more people learned that they too could rap. Early rap sessions were boastful and competitive, sometimes live, improvised competitions between two DJs or two kids on a street corner or two musicians or dancers. Rap has often been combined with break dancing and other entertaining forms of dance as part of the competition.

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