On this day in music history: August 11, 1973 – Eighteen year old Jamaican born DJ Kool Herc (aka Clive Campbell) throws a block party in the first floor rec room of his apartment building at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx in New York City. Advertised as a “Back To School Jam”, flyers handwritten on 3×5 index cards are distributed widely throughout the neighborhood. The event is filled to capacity, attracting 300 people. Herc sets up his powerful sound system in the room, spinning a mixture of R&B, Funk, Latin and Rock records. Using duplicate copies of the same record on two turntables, Herc isolates and extends the breakdown of these songs to the delight of the crowd. The event is a huge success and leads to the DJ spinning at even larger events on the streets and in clubs in and around the Bronx. However, the first party is regarded as a watershed event in history as the birth of the Hip Hop Movement. The strip of Sedwick Avenue where the apartment complex resides, is redubbed “Hip Hop Blvd.” by the city of New York in 2016, by mayor Bill de Blasio. The current owners of the building have applied for it to be added to the registry of historic sites in New York City in 2007, but to date has not been finalized. Happy 46th Birthday, Hip Hop!!!
On this day in music history: July 14, 1998 – “Hello Nasty”, the fifth album by the Beastie Boys is released. Produced by the Beastie Boys and Mario Caldato, Jr., it is recorded at G-Son Studios in Atwater, CA, The Dungeon, Ted Diamond’s House Of Hits, RPM Studios, Soho Music Studios, and Dessau Studios in New York City from Early 1997 – Mid 1998. The group’s first new album in over four years, it marks the Beasties return to the more sample driven roots of their first two albums. The title is inspired by the groups publicity firm “Nasty Little Man”. The firms receptionist was known for greeting callers with the phrase “Hello Nasty”. The album also introduce new DJ Mixmaster Mike (Invisibl Skratch Piklz) to the group. It spins off four singles including “Intergalactic” (#28 Pop, #4 Modern Rock) and “Body Movin’” (#15 Modern Rock). “Nasty” also has a limited number (7,500 copies) that are pressed on clear gold vinyl. Production issues with the LP jackets being manufactured incorrectly results in many of the colored vinyl copies becoming warped during shipping, with the majority being recalled as defective. Rapturously received by fans and critics upon its release, the album sells nearly 700,000 copies in its first week. It also wins two Grammy Awards including Best Alternative Music Album and Best Rap Performance By A Duo Or Group for the single “Intergalactic” in 1999. The album is remastered on CD in 2009 in a two disc edition. The first disc contains the original twenty two song album. Disc two features twenty one bonus tracks including various non-album B-sides and remixes. It is also reissued as a double vinyl 180 gram LP, and as a limited edition four LP set (limited to 1,500 copies), with the latter containing all of the bonus material from the second CD. “Hello Nasty” debuts at number one on the Billboard Top 200 spending three weeks at the top, and is certified 3x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
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On this day in music history: August 24, 1983 – “Future Shock”, the thirty fifth album by Herbie Hancock is released. Produced by Material and Herbie Hancock, it is recorded at OAO Studios in Brooklyn, NY, RPM Studios in New York City and Garage Sale Recording Studios in Los Angeles, CA from Early – Mid 1983. Never standing still creatively, jazz musician Herbie Hancock takes his music in yet another innovative and unexpected direction. Hancock asks bassist Bill Laswell and keyboardist Michael Beinhorn of Material to work with him on an album. Armed with an arsenal of new and cutting edge synthesizers including the Rhodes Chroma and the Fairlight CMI sampling keyboard, he is joined in the studio with a group of musicians that includes Laswell (bass), Beinhorn (keyboards), Sly Dunbar (drums, percussion), Daniel Ponce (percussion), Pete Cosey (guitar) and vocalists Bernard Fowler (New York City Peech Boys, Tackhead), Roger Trilling, Dwight Jackson, Jr., Nicky Skopelitis and Lamar Wright. The albums centerpiece is the first single “Rockit” (#6 R&B, #1 Club Play, #71 Pop), composed in the studio by Hancock, Laswell and Beinhorn. Laswell enlists DJ Grandmixer D. ST (born Derek Showard) (now known as GrandMixer DXT), to add turntable scratching to the track (using the record “Change The Beat” by Fab 5 Freddy and Be-Side). Largely unheard outside of Hip Hop parties in New York City, the percussive of sound of D. ST’s scratching immediately turn heads. Laswell takes a tape of the unreleased song to a high end stereo store and plays it on one of the stores demo systems. The producer is immediately rushed by customers wanting to know what it is. Released in June of 1983, the public response is the equivalent of a seismic wave traveling across the landscape. “Rockit” is supported by a striking and highly innovative music video directed by former 10cc members Kevin Godley and Lol Creme. The clip features very little of Hancock himself, who is seen on a television monitor briefly. The video receives heavy rotation on MTV, winning five Video Music Awards at the first VMA awards ceremony in 1984. Amazingly, 90% of the singles million plus sales are for the 12" single release. “Rockit” also earns Hancock his first Grammy Award for Best R&B Instrumental Performance in 1984. The musician also turns in a highly memorable live performance of the song (featuring D.ST) at the ‘84 Grammy Awards. It also inspires the international Turntablism Movement beginning in the 80’s, and exploding during the 90’s when DJ’s such as Qbert and Mix Master Mike site the song as a major influence. The album spins off two other singles including “Autodrive” (#26 R&B, #36 Club Play), and the title track. “Future Shock” peaks at number two on the Billboard Jazz Album chart, number ten on the R&B album chart, number forty three on the Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.