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Won't Stop

original Hip-hop playlist

Futura, Break piece, 1980, Photograph by Martha Cooper

1520 Sedgwick Avenue to the World

During the summer of 1973, DJ Kool Herc, and his sister Cindy threw a back-to-school party at the Recreation Room at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx. There, Kool Herc spun records and made history.

Playing "loops" and "breaks," DJ Kool Herc laid down funky beats and soon after, Coke La Rock rhymed over them becoming hip-hop's original MC. 

The Message - Grandmaster Flash
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The 1970s in New York City were turbulent years. Rival gangs battled over territory and members. Hip-hop emerged as a cultural expression of the times.

Photo by Stephen Salmieri

Renegade of Funk

Inspired by DJ Kool Herc, Africa Baambataa, a DJ and member of the Black Spades gang, began organizing hip-hop parties, helping turn violent street battles into epic dance battles.

With his band Soulsonic Force, Baambataa created Zulu Nation and brought ideas of black liberation to the developing hip-hop scene in the Bronx.

Planet Rock - Afrika Baambataa and Soulsonic Force
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Inspired by DJ Kool Herc, Afrika Baambataa, a DJ and member of the Black Spades gang, helped turn violent  street battles between rival gangs to epic dance battles.

Crazy Legs, Soulsonic Force show, 1982 Photograph by Ebet Roberts

Musical Maniac, To Say the Least

Inspired by hip-hop forerunners The Treacherous Three, LL Cool J started rapping at the age of 9. When his grandfather bought LL $2000 worth of equipment, there was no stopping him.

Doing his own mixing, LL sent demos to record labels around New York and was signed by Def Jam Records in 1984. He was just 16 years old.

I Can't Live Without My Radio - LL Cool J
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South Bronx Park Jam, 1984.

Photograph by Henry Chalfant



Can't Stop, Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation by Jeff Chang

That's the Joint!: The Hip Hop Studies Reader edited by Murray Forman and Mark Anthony Neal

Hip-Hop America by Nelson George

Book of Rhymes: The Poetics of Hip Hop by Adam Bradley


The Chronic, Dr. Dre

3 Feet High & Rising, De La Soul

Paid in Full, Eric B & Rakim

Run-DMC, Run-DMC

Paul's Boutique, Beastie Boys

Illmatic, Nas

Fear of a Black Planet, Public Enemy

Straight Outta Compton, N.W.A.

Midnight Marauders, A Tribe Called Quest

All Eyez on Me, 2Pac


Hip-Hop Evolution (2016)

Uprising: Hip-Hop & the L.A. Riots (2012)

Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats & Rhymes (2006)

Rhyme & Reason (1997)

Style Wars (1983)

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