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The Birth of Hip Hop

The story of early hip hop in the 1970s and '80s. DJ Trevor Nelson talks to hip hop historian Mark Anthony Neal, film-maker Michael Holman and Grandmaster Caz.

The story of early hip hop, from 1970s 'block parties' in the South Bronx to the next decade when some musicians used rap for harsh social critique while others looked to it for big commercial success. Trevor Nelson talks to Duke University hip hop historian Mark Anthony Neal, film-maker and impresario Michael Holman, and one of the central figures in early hip hop, Grandmaster Caz.

DJ and MC Grandmaster Caz is one of the most important and influential pioneers of old school rap. Mark Anthony Neal is professor of African and African American Studies and the founding director of the Center for Arts, Digital Culture and Entrepreneurship at Duke University. Michael Holman is a leading New York hip-hop activist: musician, filmmaker, artist manager, club promoter, journalist and critic, television producer, archivist, visual artist, and educator.

(Photo: A breakdancer. Credit: Getty Images)

Available now

41 minutes

Music Played

  • Eric B. & Rakim

    Eric B is President

  • James Brown

    Give It Up or Turnit a Loose

  • DJ Hollywood

    Shock Shock the House

  • U-Roy

    Version Galore

  • James Brown

    Funky President

  • James Brown

    Get on the Good Foot

  • The O’Jays

    Love Train

  • Grover Washington, Jr.

    Mister Magic

  • Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five

    The Adventures Of Grandmaster Flash On The Wheels Of Steel

  • Kurtis Blow

    The Breaks

  • MFSB

    Love is the Message

  • The Sugarhill Gang

    Rapper’s Delight

  • Funky 4 + 1

    That’s the Joint

  • Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five

    The Message

  • Stevie Wonder

    Living for the City

  • Dennis Alcapone

    Muhammad Ali

  • Gil Scott‐Heron

    The Revolution Will Not be Televised

  • Run‐D.M.C. vs Jason Nevins

    It's Like That

  • Run‐D.M.C.

    Sucker M.C.'s

  • Run‐D.M.C.

    Christmas in Hollis

  • Cold Crush Brothers

    At the Dixie

  • Roxanne Shanté

    Roxanne's Revenge

  • Salt‐N‐Pepa

    Push it

  • Eric B. & Rakim

    I Know You Got Soul

  • Schoolly D

    PSK, What Does it Mean?

  • Eric B. & Rakim

    Paid in Full

  • DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince

    Parents Just Don't Understand