Kool Herc Interview
Kool Herc 2000
|Clive Campbell, aka DJ Kool Herc, gave birth to hip hop, by stringing a series of breaks together back to back, rather than playing the records in full. Kool Herc's other masterstroke was to play for young kids rather than their parents, tapping in to the energy of the era’s teenage breakdancers. This interview was conducted in Herc's beat-up Lincoln as we drove around the Bronx, tracking down all the clubs he remembered from his glory days.
I came here in ’67 aged 13.
Oh yeah, Very well. I remember Jamaican independence. I remember when the Queen Mother came. I remember when Emperor Haile Salassie came there.
Lovely, lovely. All the rastas came out of the hills. They never seen so much rastas in all their fuckin life in Jamaica. Camped out, ran on the tarmac. Meet the plane. When Selassie came to the plane window he turned back in and started cryin’. He didn’t know people was worshipping him like that.
I was young, my first neighbourhood I live in is Trenchtown. Bob Marley used to live there. He used to live on First Avenue, or First Street. I lived on Second Street around by a theatre called the Ambassador Theatre. And right there man. Right now they say grass grows in the streets there.
I haven’t been back in years. My father died and it took something out of me.
No he came here but he was going back and forth. He caught a seizure in the water. A seizure. People went down there, see him and didn’t rescue him out of the water.
Mom was a nurse. My dad was a top notch mechanic. In Jamaica he used to work in this Newport West, fixed the high lifts, the fork lifts. When he came here he started to work at Clarks equipment company, out in Queens.
Yeah. There was a dancehall near where I lived, up in Franklyn town. We used to be playing at marbles and riding our skateboards, used to see the guys bringing the big boxes inside of the handcarts. And before that a guy used to put up watercolour signs. They used to make watercolour signs and put them on lightposts, let people know there’s going to be a dance coming. A dancehall, you all could tell a dancehall, a spot where a dance keep at. Matter of fact I lived in a dancehall one time. And the whole yard would be concrete, and there’d be a high fence. So you can’t see in, you can’t stand on the corner and watch in, there’d be a high fence.
Interviewed by Frank Broughton in the Bronx, 30.9.98