Clive Campbell (born 16 April 1955), better known by his stage name DJ Kool Herc, is a Jamaican-American DJ who is credited with originating hip hop music in the early 1970s in The Bronx, New York City. His playing of hard funk records of the sort typified by James Brown was an alternative both to the violent gang culture of the Bronx and to the nascent popularity of disco in the 1970s. Campbell began to isolate the instrumental portion of the record, which emphasized the drum beat—the “break“—and switch from one break to another.
Using the same two turntable set-up of disco DJs, Campbell used two copies of the same record to elongate the break. This breakbeat DJing, using hard funk and records with Latin percussion, formed the basis of hip hop music. Campbell’s announcements and exhortations to dancers helped lead to the syncopated, rhymed spoken accompaniment now known as rapping. He called his dancers “break-boys” and “break-girls”, or simply b-boys and b-girls. Campbell’s DJ style was quickly taken up by figures such as Afrika Bambaataa and Grandmaster Flash. Unlike them, he never made the move into commercially recorded hip hop in its earliest years.