The history of the hip hop is either known or it’s not, and for me, I never knew much. I was unaware of the swift transition from disco to hip hop in the Bronx, and I also never knew who the Holy Trinity were until Netflix developed and released Hip Hop Evolution. The show is a four part series hosted by rapper Shadrach “Shad” Kabango. Shad sits down with once top artists in the business and others that have stayed household names for decades, such as Ice T, Ice Cube, Grandmaster Flash, Russell Simmons and Big Daddy Kane.
The series episodes are each divided to highlight the major shifts of the genre, beginning with The Origins, then The Underground to the Mainstream, The New Guard and ending with The Birth of Gangsta Rap.
The Holy Trinity is a referral to the three original contributors to the creation of Hip Hop; DJ Kool Herc, GRANDMASTER Flash and Afrika Babaataa are credited with equally developing an underground sound that gave a voice to the kids in the projects. The Origins takes us back to the early 1970s, to a time when disco ruled, until DJ Kool Herc hosted the first “hip hop party”, experimenting with “the merry-go-round”, a technique used to continuously play a record without interruption from the needle. Kool Herc’s parties brought a new teen fad – breakdancing. Known as an A1 B-Boy, the best breakdancer from the neighborhood would show off his moves in the dark, smoky rooms of the building where Herc allowed music to change forever.
1973: DJ Kool Kerk hosts first Hip Hop Party; Bronx, NY.
Afrika Bambaataa and the Zulu Nation were next to assist the evolution by creating DJ battles. Bambaataa today is recognized as a local hero due to his dedication to bringing gangs and the community together. Afrika believed that teenagers could get involved with MC’ing or graffiti as a way to express themselves. This culture movement became “Hip Hop”. Hip Hop is a way to provide a message to listeners, and for those messages to be bring light to the struggles being faced in a community. Afrika is quoted in Hip Hop Evolution saying, “…no matter what color you are, you know who your ancestors are”, and through this practice, Afrika stopped much of the gang violence in his community.
1977: Afrika Bambaataa and the Zulu Nation, begins rap battles.
1980s: Grandmaster Flash tinkers with tables, perfecting the technique of mixing records.
Grandmaster Flash is the finale to the Holy Trinity. His curiosity for the record player, it’s inner coils and the record needle drew Flash to Hip Hop. Nelson George describes him as, “[someone] who didn’t just play the record, but played the technology”. Flash spent his time, even through today, mastering the art of scratching records.
Today these artists are still involved with their community, hip hop. The beginning of Hip Hop is being portrayed more and more through music and film, such as The Get Down, another Netflix production.