50 years of hip-hop through the decades: The ’70s

In celebration of hip-hop’s 50th anniversary, ABC Audio breaks down each decade with important dates and memorable moments of the genre — from its humble beginnings in the ’70s to the genre’s massive impact on today’s music. 

August 1973 — Clive DJ Kool Herc Campbell develops the “break” in the Bronx, New York. The Jamaican-American DJ threw a dance party where he used two turntables to spin the same record, toggling back and forth between each to isolate the instrumental portion and the drum beat. Known by many as the “father of hip-hop,” DJ Kool Herc is credited for the creation of the genre.

1975 — Theodore Grand Wizzard Livingston was playing records in his room when, after startled by his mother, he accidentally “scratched” the record — but liked the sound it made. That unexpected invention became known as the DJ scratching technique. 

1978 — Pioneers Kevin “DJ Lovebug Starski Smith and Robert Keef Cowboy Wiggins are widely known as the creators of the term hip-hop. Multiple reports say the two traded words back and forth at a farewell party for a friend, which turned into the popular phrase used in “Rapper’s Delight” by The Sugarhill Gang: “I said-a hip, hop, the hippie, the hippie to the hip hip hop.”

Terms that defined the genre: 

  • DJing 
  • Turntable
  • Breakdance
  • B boy & B girl 
  • MCing/Rapping
  • Emcee 

Songs of the ’70s:

“Rapper’s Delight” — The Sugarhill Gang

“To the Beat Y’all” — Lady B

“Superrappin” — Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five

“Rappin’ and Rocking the House” — Funky Four Plus One

”Christmas Rappin” — Kurtis Blow

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