that's the breaks: late 70s/early 80s breaks and turntablism
POSTED ON 7/12/2006 | PERMALINK |
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A break beat is the sampling of breaks as drum loops (beats), originally from soul tracks, and using them as the rhythmic basis for hip hop songs. It was invented by DJ Kool Herc, the first to buy two copies of one record so as to be able to mix between the same break (as Bronx DJ Afrika Bambaataa described it, "that certain part of the record that everybody waits for—they just let their inner self go and get wild"), extending its length through repetition (Toop, 1991). The dance the boys and girls ended up doing to break beats was called the Break, later break dancing.
Paul Winley's bootleg Super Disco Breaks were the first break beat compilations.
Winley thought he had locked up the game when he signed Bambaataa, the Bronx's most respected DJ. But Bam hated the two singles he cut — "Zulu Nation Throwdown Part 1" with the Cosmic Force and "Zulu Nation Throwdown Part II" with the Soul Sonic Force. He was further incensed when Winley released an unauthorized bootleg of one of the infamous Zulu Nation parties in "Death Mix, Parts I and II" and ended the business relationship. Despite Bambaataa's feelings about the singles, they remain jaw-droppingly stunning.This is groundbreaking music. It is mindblowing that this stuff was made so long ago. A quick listen to the preview samples shows how much modern artists take from this music -- often without adding much to the equation. The best tracks here are significantly more interesting than the music that first hit the charts as "hip-hop" or "rap". This all happened before the commonly accepted beginnings of such types of music and really marks the first time the potential of breaks and dj's were fully realized as an art form.
The "Zulu Nation Throwdown" tracks capture the loose exuberance of Bambaataa's crew, and are some of the only official recordings of the supremely skilled Queen Lisa Lee. "Death Mix" features Bam, DJ Jazzy Jay and DJ Red Alert cutting up breaks and Sundance MCing sometime in late 1979 or early 1980. For all its hissy cassette-in-the-bassbin fidelity, it has the same real-deal urgency and immediacy of a Charley Patton or Robert Johnson recording.
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