The Father of Hip Hop culture, DJ Kool Herc is very sick. He needs surgery, has financial difficulties and has no health insurance. In short he’s in dire straits.
I have long dreaded the day when I would read this type of story. How many of our pioneering heroes and sheroes, not just in Hip Hop but in other music genres and in Black history have gone down this road? One would hope that after 35 years and us in Hip Hop having the luxury of hindsight and knowing the history of those came before us who suffered similar fates, this scenario would not be happening. Sadly we see history repeating itself..
What’s going on with the Father of Hip Hop Kool Herc is not only a commentary on the callousness of our society that wishes to slam other countries who allow their people to suffer for being ‘less than civilized’, but its also a commentary on us…
No, I don’t expect every deejay, emcee and break dancer to dig into their pocket and give money. We’ve done this time and time again..From Sam Sneed to MC Breed, the Hip Hop community has had to hold some sort of fundraiser to help folks with medical expenses…We all recall the tragic passing of Professor X from X-Clan.. He could not afford medical care when he was feeling sick.. a few weeks later he passed away..
This should not be happening, As far as I’m concerned we all need to take a look and ask ourselves why is Health care so much? Why is the GOP wanting to repeal an already shoddy bill that doesn’t even have a public option? It was just this morning (Sunday Jan 30th) I was watching a TV show on NBC called ‘Press This’ that featured the former governor of New Mexico, Gary Johnson. He was on there gearing up to run for President in 2012, and pretty much saying we don’t need health care reform at all..
‘Let the free market take care of things’, is what he said..In other words survival of the fittest. If you fall through the cracks c’est la vie..
All I could do is shake my head. Obviously things are not working…Such assertions usually come from those who already have enough, money, resources and understanding of this system to survive. Most of us are at severe disadvantages which are compounded by the erroneous assumptions and arrogance of those who aren’t in trouble but are granted national platforms to espouse their flawed philosophies.
Right now the spotlight is on Kool Herc and hopefully we can rally to his aide.. After all, he’s the Father of a culture that is worldwide and makes billions of dollars a year for all sorts of corporations and selected individuals. But what about the other folks who aren’t named Kool Herc? What about you who is reading this who found yourself having to decide between paying skyrocketing rents or dropping your Blue Shield coverage after the rates increased a whooping 39%. Thank you Bruce Bodaken CEO of Blue Shield California…. You greedy Fortune 500 executive..
Anyway, while we ponder the state of our Health care and try to figure out why its a for profit business and not a basic human right, we may also ask ourselves, how many of us seriously care and revere our pioneers? Why is Kool Herc in trouble and what are the fates of other pioneers? Keep in mind Herc is not the only pioneering figure who is sick and in trouble.. I don’t wanna put people’s businesses on front street without their permission, but the situation is not good and trust me.. the difficulties they face are not because people brought a million dollars worth of jewelry and cars before taking care of themselves.
In addition there are a number of activists and organizers who are in serious trouble. Over the past few years there have been at least 5 or 6 that I can name who passed away from heart attacks and other’ preventable’ ailments. It was just this week a well known activist and friend in his 40s had a heart attack… Its one thing to show up at the emergency room at the 11th hour to get saved. Its another thing to have resources to go in for routine checkups. Some of this falls on us to try and keep ourselves healthy…but a lot of this should be all our collective responsibility…We have to make room for everyone to stay healthy and make it affordable.
We should be asking ourselves what role if any do these corporations who make billions off of Hip Hop play in looking out for them? For example, Kool Herc has been to the Bay Area on numerous occasions and I think maybe once he’s been on the commercial stations that plays Hip Hop and R&B.. The one time I recall was in ’96 when I had him on and maybe once when author Jeff Chang was promoting his book.. Other then that .. it’s been an absence.. Just as it was the other night when Afrika Bambaataa the Godfather of Hip Hop was in town and there was no mention.
Meanwhile across town, let Mick Jagger break a fingernail or we discover a 50 year old poor quality photo of the Beatles and time stops.
Again this happens way too much..
I spoke with Kool Herc’s sister Cindy Campbell, the Mother of Hip Hop. She said Kerc isout of the hospital for now and will need surgery next week. They are trying to figure out how this will get paid for.. I know that there’s a found raiser for him this coming Tuesday at Sutra which is in SOHO.. I also let Cindy know her and Herc along with any other pioneer and musician should reach out to Dave Marsh’s organization Rock and Rap Confidential. For years these guys have been trying to keep musicians up to date on a number of political issues including ways in which they can obtain Healthcare. Several years ago I sat on a panel at SXSW where this was touched upon.. Also on the panel were the folks from Rock A Mole productions who p[ut together an excellent documentary about musicians and healthcare.. Please visit the following links where you can find a ton of information.
I would strongly urge musicians to get involved with these organizations. There is no need to reinvent the wheel. Anyone reading this please pass the information along. Take a few dollars from your next show and donate to theseplaces to make sure ALL musicians get covered.. We should not be having scenarios like the one Kool Herc is experiencing in 2011.
For those who have a couple of bucks Here’s a PO Bx for Herc… Kool Herc PO bx 20472 Huntington station, 111746..
Cindy said they will soon have a pay pal account.. What I would like to see are some of these radio stations who make upwards to 80 MILLION dollars a year playing Hip Hop to jump start a fund. It would be nice if some of the labels could do something as well.. It would be encouraging if folks who work at these companies get the ball rolling. Realistically most of these outlets will not do the right thing.. Black life is devalued. Pioneers in this culture are disposable, so while I think we should advocate and agitate, the likely scenario is it will come down to each and everyone of us.. so hollar at the folks from Rock & Rap Confidential.
Here’s an early interview I did with Kool Herc back in 1989 at the New Music seminar
Big shout out to the folks over at All Hip Hop and DJ Premier for keeping folks us to date.. I hope that all of us in Hip Hop can raise our level of conversation to keep all of us informed….
(AllHipHop News) Hip-Hop pioneer DJ Kool Herc is currently in the hospital suffering from an unknown health condition.
According to Gangstarr’s DJ Premier, Kool Herc‘s health is deteriorating and he is in need of financial assistance, because he reportedly doesn’t have health insurance.
“Kool Herc is very sick,” DJ Premier revealed on his XM Satellite radio show Live From Headqcourterz. “For those that know about Hip-Hop, who we call the father of Hip-Hop, Kool Herc, is not doing well. It’s funny how we have a father of a culture that still lives, where as in some cultures they are dead and gone even though they may still be worshipped or reflected on in some kind of way.”
According to DJ Premier, he spoke to Herc, who revealed that he was in need of financial assistance because he didn’t have medical coverage.
Kool Herc, 55, is recognized by music historians as the Founding Father of Hip-Hop for his style of “Break” DJ’ing, which isolates the rhythm of a particular portion of a record.
He is credited for laying the foundation for the most popular genre of music in the world, after a party he hosted at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue, in the South Bronx.
DJ Kool Herc is also a community activist who led a multi-year effort to prevent the sale of 1520 Sedgwick to greedy real estate speculators.
In September of 2010, the building received a $5.6 million dollar federal loan that halted the sale of the building, allowing hundreds of tenants to keep their homes.
Additionally, the building has officially been recognized as the place Hip-Hop music during the party, which took place on August 11th, 1973.
“Being as though he is the man that set this whole culture off, y’all [the fans] should be willing any type of way you can.”