Hip Hop turned 44-years-old on August 11. In honor of its birthday, Google orchestrated a “doodle” celebrating the culture with two turntables and a crate of classic break-beat records. The 68-second clip essentially credited DJ Kool Herc for pioneering the break.
In an apparent response to the Google doodle, Grandmaster Flash of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five published a video titled “A Letter to Kool Herc From Grandmaster Flash” on August 14, publicly calling out Herc.
Let's celebrate the #birthofhiphop – the #GoogleDoodle is fired up and ready for you. It's an interactive turntable and crate full of legendary breaks, so head over to Google and check it out! See how long you can extend that drum beat – SEAMLESSLY – and keep the party going. #Ad >https://goo.gl/MMFac1< Head to Facebook to see a video by yours truly talking about the early days.
The legendary turntablist (real name Joseph Stadler) claims Herc hasn’t cleared up a part of technical DJ history, including looping — a structure, series or process of which the end is connected to the beginning of a record.
“I’ve been asked, ‘Describe Kool Herc,’ [I say], ‘Wonderful,'” Flash says. “The first DJ to publicly play grooves and breaks … had the most incredible sound system, and this echo chamber gave him like the voice of God. But then there’s a technical aspect in this world of DJs. There’s possibly where I have questions. Godfather, I went online to see if there were any performances of your hands doing what you do. Since I could not find it, this is what I remember — especially going to see you in Cedar Park, west side of the Bronx, Sedgwick. Now there is [the] question: who is the creator of this thing from a layman’s perspective — looping?”
Shortly after, he stakes his claim as the first DJ to use the technique.
“Here’s my definition of what I call ‘looping’: [I am the] first DJ to put his hands on the record and use the record as a controller as well as his sound source,” Flash says. “I was very much hated when I came up with this system. I gotta tell ya, Herc—it was so hard. I was tryin’ to find a job doin’ this. And nobody would hire me.
“I was known for making the record dirty, I was known for rubbing the record back and forth and destroying the record,” he continues. “I was known for disrespecting [the record] by putting a mark on it with the crayon. The only person who truly understood what it was, what I was doin’, was my first prodigy … his name was Grand Wizard Theodore … You see Herc, with this style, it spawned all these techniques behind it, like the cut, and the rub, and the scratch, and the scribble, and the transform, and the orbit, and the [crab-scratch], and the flares. All this done with this technique.”
He adds, “I just to make it clear: the art of this technical thing, Herc, it’s me.”
He also mentions his creation of the slipmat or what he called “a wafer,” a piece of material that goes between the turntable’s platter and vinyl record.
Although three DJs have been considered the Holy Trinity — Herc, Flash and Afrika Bambaataa — Flash skipped over Bam’s contributions and implied the trinity was now comprised of only two (Bam’s name was seemingly left out of the discussion intentionally).
“Thank you so much for starting this [Herc],” he said. “I definitely want to give a big ups to Google, thank you so much for this. Thank you for putting this on such a huge platform … In closing, I want to say to you Herc—we were three at one time. Now we’re two. Eventually, God will call and it’ll be one. And then there’ll be none. I don’t want it to end this way. Let’s break bread, chop it up alone or we can just sit in front of press and talk about the stories, ’cause believe me, the world really wants to know. Goodnight.”
Herc has yet to publicly respond.