Imagine the musical landscape without hip-hop.
Imagine going to a club or party and not hearing the beat drop or DJ do his thing.
Doesn’t sound like much fun at all.
Thinking about the influence of hip-hop on so many facets of life, how can the hip hop community do its part to help one of its ailing pioneers in a time of extreme crisis? Better yet, what is the hip-hop community doing to help the legendary DJ Kool Herc?
According to DJ Premier, the uninsured rap icon fell ill with kidney stones and with his condition deteriorating he was in desperate need of financial support to pay for mounting medical expenses after surgery to remove the stones went well.
Insert Jeff Chang.
Chang wrote the hip-hop history book, Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop which featured an introduction written by Kool Herc and upon hearing about his condition set out to raise funds virally.
Creating a website, djkoolherc.com, Chang spread the word and watched it light up the blogosphere in hopes of donations rolling in to the PayPal account.
On the site, Chang pleaded, “he has given so much to make our lives better. Let us do the same for him.”
Herc isn’t taking his condition laying down either.
Determined to use his fame to call attention to millions of other uninsured Americans, Herc said on his site, “Now we are fighting for health care not just for me, but for everyone. I see this as another quest for me to shine light on a sensitive issue for the community.”
Blazing a new trail much like he did when he created hip-hop at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx.
Herc’s fight also deals with coming of age before the financial dividends of hip-hop we’ve become accustomed to even existed. Whether it was busting open light poles to make the party in the park happen or inventing the break beat, his mark is indelible; it just didn’t pay as well as crankin’ anything does today. The real question is can hip-hop show that its hustle and lavishness can also be put towards something other than jewelry and cars.In a statement to MTV News, Kool Herc acknowledged just how ridiculous living in one of the world’s superpowers uninsured is and evoked many of the words and promises America has told incoming immigrants coming for over a century.
”’Give me your tired, your poor … ‘and then you don’t take care of them? There should be no weak ants in the colony. There shouldn’t be anyone fighting for health care! This has been going on too damn long!” said Herc. “I’m an instrument of God. I’m here for a purpose and I want to be here for the solution.”
He’s right. But it’s amazing how little hip-hop honors its living legends.
One of the few cultures with its founding fathers intact, as a community, we seem to only value lives when it’s time to mourn them.
How can any fan, member or observer of hip hop not feel some obligation to helping a man who invited a global phenomenon that’s sucked millions of people into vortex.
Even if you don’t make a financial donation, connoisseurs of hip-hop at least owe it to DJ Kool Herc to help spread awareness for the cause.
While the story is fresh in our minds, we should openly question every artist we see throwing wads of cash made from Herc’s original creativity, what he did to help the cause.
No, it’s not any artists’ singular responsibility to give a penny towards these efforts but it’s mind blowing that no single artist has just stepped up to shoulder a huge chunk of the expenses, for at least the culture’s sake. It’s really a win-win situation. Great cause, great PR, happy ending (at least temporarily) for all involved.
If we don’t? If nothing comes of the Internet outcry? We’ll be exactly what many people outside of the culture see us as anyway. Uninspired, lacking leadership and unable to couple our influence for good.
You can learn a lot of things about a community by how they treat their sick and elders and now is an opportunity for hip-hop to prove the strength and unity and in the process, prove to the world it’s way deeper than the music. We flexed our influence in politics before, let’s show it on a personal level.
You can find information of how to donate to Herc’s fund at “www.djkoolherc.com