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When the Beat Was Born: DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop
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When the Beat Was Born: DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  1,355 ratings  ·  215 reviews
Before there was hip hop, there was DJ Kool Herc.

On a hot day at the end of summer in 1973 Cindy Campbell threw a back-to-school party at a park in the South Bronx. Her brother, Clive Campbell, spun the records. He had a new way of playing the music to make the breaks—the musical interludes between verses—longer for dancing. He called himself DJ Kool Herc and this is When
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published August 27th 2013 by Roaring Brook Press
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3.97  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,355 ratings  ·  215 reviews

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Jun 12, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 9th-grade
This book has many problems. Lets start with the title. I don't think that it is accurate to say that during the Harlem Renaissance the "Beat was born". Music has been around forever; we all know that. people where teaching themselves rhythm and such FAR before DJ Kool Herc developed the first turntables. Another thing that got me pissed was that it just seemed like something that would be handed to a 2nd grader who had to do a brief school project on music and/or had to write about an artist. T ...more
Michelle Schnell
Reflection on ONE: Text to text, text to self, text to world connection with the book:

Text-to-Text: This text would connect very nicely with A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin. They both tell the story of someone having a passion for something and following his dreams, not giving up on them. These two books in the same unit would be amazing: art and music being created by African Americans who have not traditionally been credited with making significant contributions when, actual
Zoe's Human
This is a wonderful story for a children's book. However, it misses the mark on being suitable for any particular level. It looks like a picture book. It reads mostly like an easy-reader chapter book without the chapters. Yet, at times, it goes beyond that into the earliest levels of juvenile nonfiction. In the end, it is too wordy for a picture book, too dry for an easy-reader, and too simple for juvenile non-fiction.
Tina ( As Told By Tina )
Mar 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review was originally posted on As Told By TinaI’ve been on a mission to read more diversely to the Littles. I recently saw When the Beat Was Born on different lists I found for diverse reads and was once again lucky that my library had it.

I mainly borrowed this book for myself. I’ve always loved to learn the history of Hip Hop and who the pioneers are.

When The Beat Was Born was a pretty good book about how DJ Kool Herc early life influenced his music. I also loved the illustrations and h
Dec 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: biography, music and African American requests
Recommended to June by: Lizzie
A beautifully illustrated picture book biography of the inventor of hip hop. (I hope to see more by Theodore Taylor III). I wish there had been more about DJ Kool Herc... However, any book that gets me, as a reader, so interested that I do further research is not necessarily a negative.
Edward Sullivan
Great story about how Jamaican-born DJ Kool Herc created Hip Hop in the Bronx in the early 1970s.
Ms Threlkeld
Interesting history of DJ Herc's influence on hip hop music. Very stylized illustrations. Would appeal to intermediate students who want to learn more about music.
Jan 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kid-lit
This book was really enlightening of the hip hop movement. It's about a little boy named Clive who loved music. He was influenced my a DJ in his neighborhood in Kingston, Jamaica who use to throw house parties every week. He moved to New York when he was a little older he noticed that there was some DJ in his new neighborhood that threw parties as well. One day he snuck in one of those parties and was able to experience the party vibes and the DJ experience and he decided he wanted to be a DJ. H ...more
With more narrative on each page that's as much picture book as biography, it's a historical walk and biographical understanding of DJ Kool Herc and how he became a DJ legend with his musical beats.

Pictures are vivid and the storytelling is fantastic about the beauty and fantasy of music and turning it into something you love.
Krista Wilkewitz
Feb 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: edr-320
The pages in this book are incredible! They are vibrant with color and draw you into the story.
Grades 2-5
This book could be used before a writing piece or to show children how different communities in New York looked and how DJ Kool Her helped them.
Hans F.8B
Jan 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Clive had loved music since he was a child. He lived in Kingston, Jamaica and loved to listen to DJs at the parties in his neighborhood. He was too young to attend, but he watched them set up before the parties and dreamed of becoming a DJ himself. When he was 13, Clive moved to New York City with his mother. That was where he started to play sports and got the nickname “Hercules” due to his size. He was soon known as Kool Herc. When his father got a sound system, Kool Herc became a DJ at a part ...more
Destinee Sutton
This is a fun picture book biography about one of the first hip hop DJs. It shows how DJ Kool Herc grew up in Jamaica, moved to the Bronx, and found a way to make dance parties even more fun. DJ Kool Herc was more of a facilitator and less a musician, but he definitely made important contributions. He introduced a new way to spin records, making the breaks last longer for "break" dancers and he popularized something DJs in Jamaica were doing: "toasting" or chanting over the beat when they played ...more
Jun 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Look at the cover to this book. What is the boy doing? What do you think the book When the Beat was Born: DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop by Laban Carrick Hill is going to be about? What is a DJ? DJ stands for disc jockey or someone who is in charge of the music. Who likes Hip Hop? Rap? Well let’s get started reading about DJ Kool Herc. (Read page 1-2). What do the words scat, jive or twang mean? Hip Hip Hop. Hippity Hop. What do these words remind you of? All of these words describe so ...more
Jun 10, 2014 rated it liked it
Text to world - When the Beat was Born makes me realize the impact music has on the world. There are many different types of music as there are cultures in the world. Each is unique, but one is not more important than another.
Remembering – What were the names of the characters in the story?
Understanding – Can you summarize the story of DJ Kool Herc?
Applying – If you were able to meet Clive/DJ Kool Herc, what questions would you ask him?
Analyzing – If Clive/DJ Kool Herc hadn’t moved to New York
Feb 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely stunning. I was thrilled that this won the Bluebonnet Award. A beautifully illustrated story that describes the birth of hip hop, with Jamaican artist Clive Campbell, aka DJ Kool Herc, as its talented epicenter.

As an adult, I felt like I learned heaps of things I'd never thought about before (Kool trademarked the "break"--an extended loop of the musical breaks between lyrical sections in songs--and by extension, created the fertile soil from which sprung "break"-dancing). I do wonder
Nov 12, 2013 rated it liked it
Picture book about the development of hip hop. Tells of Kool Herc's childhood in Jamaica, listening outside the "biggest and baddest" parties thrown by local DJ, then moving to New York City as a kid and becoming a DJ himself. Kids who danced during the instrumental "break" of the song became popular and so he used 2 records on 2 turntables to extend the break and provide more opportunity for the "break dancers." He called out to the audience during the breaks, hired kids to rap along with him, ...more
Dec 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: musicians
This was impressive enough I recommended it to a family member on finishing it. He was impressed as well. This is again about someone I really didn't know much about other than vaguely recognizing the name. DJ Kool Herc (short for Hercules, a nickname he got on the streets) was born in Jamaica and came to New York as a teenager. He had been exposed to DJ work in Jamaica and took to it naturally in this new country. He came up with or encouraged many of the standard techniques of hip hop: the dou ...more
Stacy Fetters
Sep 24, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: sneaky-librarian
DJ Kool Herc was born in Jamaica and always wanted to go to the big parties. He would watch them set up and wheel in crates and crates of records. He was envious.
In his teens, he moved to New York to be with his mum. He changed his name to make himself seem cooler. Kool Herc stuck.
After receiving a huge sound system, he plugged and unplugged cords to get a huger sound. After that, history was made.
This was missing something and I can't quite put my finger on it. It lacked in some parts and was o
Feb 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
When the Beat Was Born is a surprisingly educational and informative picture book about the early days of the hip hop scene and someone who helped bring together people through a lifestyle. This filled in some gaps in my own understanding of the creation of hip hop, break dancing, and the influence on the current scene. The illustrations have the feel of graffiti art fitting to the topic and go with the text. Overall, a wonderfully informative book that includes a bibliography for people who wan ...more
Karen Witzler
Jan 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this non-fiction picture book which tells the story of DJ Kool Herc and the origins of hip-hop in 1970's Bronx. Carrick's detailed description of how the new form of music and dance was born is complemented by Theodore Taylor III's wonderful illustrations which are engaging and rendered in energetic colors. Author's notes and timeline are at the end of the story. Elementary age -- but I learned something and enjoyed the story,too.
Mar 03, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: childrens
There's nothing wrong with this book, but I guess I'm just not interested in the birth of hip hop. When the Beat Was Born is informational and has cool illustrations. It also includes a timeline for the history of hip hop and rap at the back of the book.
Dec 30, 2014 rated it it was ok
This book is too short for its subject. It attempts to explain "breaks" in songs in one sentence. Perhaps, parents who are hip hop aficionados will enjoy reading this to their children. But for someone without a knowledge of hip hop, the book was more confusing than informative.
Paige Y.
Interesting book about the origins of hip-hop.there were a few places where I thought the text bled into the illustrations. I also would have liked for the afterward to include information about DJ Kook Herc after the late 1970's.
Sep 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
A fascinating description of Hip-Hop's origins and one the first well-known DJs, Kool Herc.
Jul 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Clive loves music. He plays trumpet and peeks over his neighbor DJ King George’s fence to watch his amazing parties on Somerset Lane in Kingston, Jamaica. He envisions himself as a DJ, jumping from roof to roof in a city of buildings made of record stacks and speakers. When he is thirteen, he moves to the Bronx to live with his mother. Though he initially has trouble fitting in, he grows to be a tall, strong young man, earning himself the nickname Hercules and styling himself “‘cool as Clyde’ af ...more
Nov 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This vibrant picture book tells the story of how Hip Hop-culture was born in Brooklyn, New York, through the skills and innovations of Clive, a.k.a. DJ Kool Herc. Since his childhood in Jamaica, Clive had the rhythm of hip “hip hop, hoppity hop” in his feet, and he admired the DJ down the street who threw the baddest parties in town. One summer, when his father bought a sound system, Clive was hooked on music for good, and slowly merged into DJ Kool Herc. After that, it was him who threw
This picture book tells the genesis of DJ Herc, one of the first hip-hop artists to come out of the Bronx in the late 1970s. As a kid in Jamaica, he loved to listen to the music blasting from house parties in his neighborhood, a passion he followed after coming to New York City and acquiring his own sound equipment. There are some cool moments in the story, like the author explaining how Herc discovers crossfading songs from two different records, or the origin of the name “Big Herc.” However, t ...more
Larkin Rich
Oct 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
When the Beat was Born: DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop is a picture book that highlights aspects of the Bronx in New York. The Bronx is typically thought of as a violent neighborhood, but this book chose to highlight the positive nonviolent influence of music in the streets. DJ Kool Herc was an instrumental factor in this nonviolent social change, thus the reason for the book's Coretta Scott King award. DJ Kool Herc, through the power of music and dance, moved others by acting in a pea ...more
Apr 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
The book starts out from his childhood in Jamaica to his youth in the Bronx. Clive had complete desire to be a DJ and would listen to all kinds of music. He then found a rhythm beat that was in all of the music he listened to, so he tampered with it until he found his own tune. Then Hip-Hop starts out on a hot day at the end of summer in 1973, when Cindy Campbell threw a back-to-school party at a park in the South Bronx. Her brother, Clive Campbell, spun the records. He had a new way of playing ...more
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