Happy birthday, Hip-hop! MC Lyte, Coco Jones and more reflect on 50 years of the genre

Let’s throw it back: The year is 1973. DJ Kool Herc throws a live dance party, where he introduces a turntable technique called the “break.” Fifty years later, he’s considered the father of hip-hop.

Fast-forward to 1978, when DJ Lovebug Starski and Keef Cowboy attend a friend’s farewell party and trade words back and forth. Forty-five years later, they’re recognized as coining the term “hip-hop.”

In the early ’80s, Afrika Bambaataa hits the scene. He’s now credited with establishing the genre’s four elements.

They were brief moments in time, but thanks to these pioneers, hip-hop lives on.

In honor of the genre’s 50th birthday on August 11, ABC Audio caught up with a few stars who reflected on the last five decades. 

MC Lyte, who helped pave the way for women in hip-hop, said nothing’s changed about her love for the genre.

“I am just as excited about hip-hop today as I was back then,” she said. 

While she’s not shocked it’s been half a century, Lyte said her 16- or 17-year-old self thought “there was no way” hip-hop would make it this far. Now 52, the rap icon said she’s “honored to still be a participant and still love it the way that I do.”

Darryl McDaniels, of the trailblazing rap group Run DMC, said hip-hop made his music dreams a reality.

“I always had these rock ‘n’ roll dreams,” he said. “Hip-hop allowed this little kid’s rock ‘n’ roll dream to come true.”

R&B newcomer Coco Jones believes hip-hop allows for the most “authentic” and “raw” version of an artist and that “other cultures are drawn to hip-hop because it’s very unapologetic.”

DJ Tony Touch shares the sentiment that hip-hop is a global phenomenon, noting it transcends ethnicity, age and race: “It’s everywhere. No other genre’s been able to cross those lines.”

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.