Jamaican DJ Kool Herc Will Be Inducted Into Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame

DJ Kool Herc, the Jamaican who has the distinction of being the Father and founder of Hip-Hop, will be officially inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame later this year, and honored with the Musical Influence Award.

Herc will become the third Jamaican to be inducted into the Rock Hall, after Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff, who were honored in 1994 and 2010, respectively.

The induction ceremony will take place on Friday, November 3, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Kool Herc will join the likes of Missy Elliot and Willie Nelson, both artists who have recorded with multiple Dancehall and Reggae artists in the past, as 2023 inductees.

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame CEO and President, Joel Peresman, in elaborating on the announcement, which was made on Tuesday, said 2023 was the perfect time to induct DJ Kool Herc.  According to him,  not only does it mark the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, but also the fact that the ceremony is set to take place only 15 miles from the Bronx apartment building where Kool Herc invented the genre in 1973.

“It just kind of worked out that we’re back in Brooklyn for the anniversary.  But the timing couldn’t have been better,” he told Rolling Stone Magazine.

In August last year, Kool Herc had shared the story of how he birthed the Hip Hop genre, in a post on his Instagram page, which described him as the father and founder of Hip-Hop.

“On August 11,1973, Kool Herc hosted a back-to-school party held on for his sister Cindy in the recreation room of their building at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue.  This is widely celebrated as the birth of Hip-Hop culture.  Herc preferred the more obscure ‘album cuts’ which he would isolate the percussive breakdown parts from and repeat them on two turntables,” the post had noted.

It also noted that Herc has also received “several accolades throughout the years” including a feature in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Museum and The Peoples Hall of Fame Award from Governor Mario Cuomo and the first VH1 Hip-Hop Honour.

In February 2020, Kool Herc, while noting that he has never forgotten his Jamaican roots, explained his “own historical importance to helping to originate hip-hop music”, pointing out that he was the first person who started his style of deejaying “coming from Jamaica”.

“This was in the Bronx in the ’70s. I moved to the States with my mother and I started to have jams in an old building. It got very popular and then the American kids got hold of the toasting, that’s the element that they took from us,” he had told The Gleaner.

Elsewhere, Kool Herc has been described as having laid “ground-breaking foundations laid for the global musical genre that has become a cultural dominance” and as a living legend who “historically used two turntables at one time to mix music and create his signature ‘Merry-Go-Round’ technique”.

In the meantime, Missy Elliot and Willie Nelson, “will join the class of 2023 in the Performer category”.  Missy Elliot was chosen in the Performer Category on what is said to be her first year of eligibility, and will also have the distinction of being the first female rapper to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

As it relates to her Dancehall connections, Missy has collaborated with Lady Saw, Vybz Kartel and Queen of Dancehall Spice, in the past.  

Lady Saw had featured on the track Mr DJ, from the rapper’s sophomore album Da Real World, which was released in 1999.  The album went on to earn a Best Rap Album Grammy nomination and was later ranked number 49 on a list of Missy’s top 115 songs by Vulture.

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Missy had also teamed up with Vybz Kartel for the track Bad Man which featured M.I.A., as well as Fun by Spice in 2011.

As for Willie Nelson, the Country singer dabbled in Reggae in 2005 with his Countryman album, which covered Jimmy Cliff’s The Harder They Come and Sitting in Limbo.    He had also teamed up with the late Toots Hibbert, for a remake of Johnny Cash’s Worried Man.

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The announcement was the icing on the cake for what Rolling Stone described as “an incredible week for the country icon” who turned 90 and celebrated with a two-day all-star concert at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles.

John Sykes, chairman of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation, has also said that the inductees this year, is a reflection of the diversity in musicians and sounds which define Rock & Roll.  

He also said the organisation was honoured that “this November’s Induction Ceremony in New York will coincide with two milestones in music culture; the 90th birthday of Willie Nelson and the 50th Anniversary of the birth of Hip Hop.”

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