The birthdate of hip hop is a matter of historical record: August 11, 1973. On that evening, Clive Campbell wondered how it would sound if, to change up his DJ set for a back-to-school party in The Bronx, he played the instrumental break from one record and matched it to the break of another record to form a continuous loop. What the DJ — whom we know as Kool Herc — did that night was invent the “Merry-Go-Round” technique, the very backbone of a new kind of music. Hip hop would emerge as a distinct music genre through the 1970s, a uniquely Black American creation.
On Friday, June 16, WURD Radio is celebrating Black Music Month with a tribute to hip hop at World Cafe Live. “Message In Our Music: Black Music as a Soundtrack to Inspire or Incite” recognizes the 50th anniversary of the genre’s origins with a night of entertainment and reflection.
The event’s centerpiece is a panel discussion focusing on hip hop’s impact, power, and presence in music, history, and the American experience. Panelists include Temple University’s “Rapping Professor” Dr. Aaron Smith, artist and community organizer Tame, Philadelphia femcee Queen Jo, radio personality and co-creator of Black Music Month Dyana Williams, and spoken word artist Ursula Rucker.
The evening also includes a music trivia contest with prizes. A cypher (that’s a freestyle rap performed in circle, for you seriously old heads) and open mic promise to encourage the talented and the enthusiastic alike to contribute to the celebration’s energy.
WURD Creative and Production Director and Stage Door host Tiffany Bacon is leading Message in Our Music. She said in a statement, “This event not only celebrates the contributions of Black musicians but also encourages meaningful conversations about the power of music to inspire social change. We hope this evening will be a source of education, reflection, and inspiration.”
WURD Radio, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, is Pennsylvania’s only African American-owned and operated talk radio station — and one of only three in the U.S. Dr. Walter P. Lomax Jr. purchased the then-Spanish-language station in 2002; it is now run by his daughter, Sara Lomax-Reese, WURD’s president and CEO.
Today, WURD serves as a dedicated space for dialogue, discussion, and representation for the Black community in Philadelphia, fostering civic engagement, providing news and information, and ensuring cultural preservation through the celebration of Black culture, history and achievement — over both AM and FM airwaves, and live streams online and on Facebook.
Hip hop’s impact
Over the last 50 years, hip hop has transformed the international music industry, fashion, and language. Transcending national borders, hip hop is a global cultural phenomenon, adopted and adapted by diverse groups outside the U.S. and contributing to the globalization of American pop culture. Its economic and entrepreneurial impact cannot be overstated. The industry — which includes 30 percent of all streaming, plus clothing lines, independent record labels, and media production — generates $10 billion annually in the U.S. alone.
For 50 years, hip hop has empowered marginalized communities while reshaping mainstream culture. The genre continues to prove a platform for artists to express themselves in a way that addresses both grievous social issues and the vulgarity of human nature with equally poetic lyricism.
Friday, June 16, 8-11 pm. Doors open at 6 pm. You can purchase tickets here in advance for $20, or $25 at the door. 3025 Walnut Street
MORE MUSIC IN PHILLY FROM THE CITIZENClockwise from left: Dyana Williams, DeeJay 007, Ursula Rucker, Tame, Queen Jo, Dr. Aaron Smith