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

3.97  ·  Rating Details ·  927 Ratings  ·  167 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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Jun 12, 2015 Moe 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
Oct 10, 2013 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
What a great picture book biography about DJ Kool and the beginnings of Hip Hop. A unique topic that most kids would want to read about, music, and not just any music, but current! I really liked the artwork with it's clean pencil-like lines, yet the colors and grahpics create movement. The story is informative without being overwhelming and has a great author note.
Dec 17, 2013 June 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.
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.
Edward Sullivan
Great story about how Jamaican-born DJ Kool Herc created Hip Hop in the Bronx in the early 1970s.
Jan 22, 2013 Tasha 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 Sarah 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 Gretchen 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
Nov 12, 2013 Christina 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 Joan 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 Stacy Fetters 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 J 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 Karen Witzler rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s-books
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.
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.
Dec 30, 2014 Emily 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.
Mar 03, 2016 SaraLaLa 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.
Sep 01, 2014 Donalyn rated it really liked it
A fascinating description of Hip-Hop's origins and one the first well-known DJs, Kool Herc.
Nov 26, 2016 Meghanchambers8gmail.Com rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book! I loved this story, and really appreciated the illustrations. I think this story about the birth of hip hop is exciting for students and highlights some real issues to be discussed. I also loved the author's notes at the end and the visual timeline of hip hop. I felt it was culturally authentic, especially in researching the author. Although he himself is not black, he has immersed himself into the history of music in the area and dedicated himself to being an expert. Overall, gr ...more
Feb 18, 2017 Katie rated it liked it
This wasn't my favorite book, but I do think it's something a student interested in this type of music, would be interested in. It talks slightly about the history of DJ Kool Herc and hip hop. He came from Jamaica and was really interested in the scene.
There is a bibliography in the back, with a timeline, so there is all kinds of cool information for further research .
Feb 13, 2017 Pam rated it it was amazing
Music styles are not born of one person, but there are those who give it wings. That is the story of DJ Kool Herc. He brought a style of music that he loved to many more people. They were then inspired to do the same. The visuals on each page match the story and the spirit of hip hop. A great story.
Sep 15, 2013 Mike rated it it was amazing

I can’t say enough about When The Beat Was Born: DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop. Let’s start with what a crowning testament to how far biographies for young readers have come. When I think about bio projects from elementary and middle school it looked like this: you chose a subject, you had to find a few different books about that subject, so that subject then had to be John F. Kennedy, Amelia Earhart, or Martin Luther King Jr. So, how pleasing is it to see a books published about obsc
Tessa Hensley
This book was so fun and interesting. I have never read a biography in the form of a picture book and this one was awesome. It is full of good pictures and slang related to the topic and used purposefully to help readers understand the characters and who they are as real people. I think this would be a great book to have in class because it is a lower level book about a real event in history that might actually interest kids. Hip Hop is pretty popular music and a book full of pictures of break d ...more
Britney Thomas
Dec 05, 2016 Britney Thomas rated it really liked it
This is a story all about one boy’s passion for music that lead to the creation of hip hop. “Little Clive” grew up in Jamaica where he would listen to his favorite DJ play songs for house parties and dance along to the tunes. Little Clive really wanted to be a DJ. One day, Clive moves to New York City to live with his mom. He borrowed his dad’s sound system and invited everyone on the block to come for a dance party. That is when Little Clive became known as DJ Kool Herc. This is a playful story ...more
Feb 02, 2016 Spencer rated it liked it
Executive Summary: When I first picked out the book "When the Beat Was Born," I didn't know it was based on a true story surrounding the evolution of Hip Hop music. So, the story tells of a young boy who grew up in Jamaica watching people DJ house parties who dreamt of being able to one day do the same thing. His family moves to the Bronx, which was a tough neighborhood for young Clive to grow up in. He finally gets involved with sports and music in his community, which ultimately led him to sta ...more
Pinnell, G. S., & Fountas, I. C. (2006). Engaging readers in thinking and talking about
texts through interactive read aloud. Teaching for comprehending and
fluency: Thinking, talking, and writing about reading, k-8. Portsmouth, NH:
Heinemann Publishing.

Narrative: “Today we are reading a book titled ‘When the Beat was Born: DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop’ and I want you to first look at the cover and I will give you some think time on your own to make a prediction about what intellig
This is another one that I have mixed feelings about. I found the story of DJ Kool Herc really interesting. It’s a neat American music story. It’s a great story about an immigrant playing an important role in shaping popular culture. I like the idea of having an artist who is Jamaican-American on the shelves to balance out all the white Classical composers (although our music collection is looking quite diverse after weeding and new additions). I also like that this is a modern black artist and ...more
Dec 09, 2014 Vanessa rated it really liked it
Shelves: t-l-307
On a hot afternoon in the summer of 1973, Cindy Campbell threw a back to school party in the park located in south Bronx. Her brother, Clive, spun records and had a new way of playing the music to make breaks longer for dancing. Breaks are the musical interludes between verses. Clive became a DJ and helped kids in gangs stop fighting by teaching them to break dance instead. The music actually defined the culture and changed the world. The style of this story is pretty unique because Hill is basi ...more
Apr 30, 2014 Emily rated it it was amazing
This book is about a boy named Clive who lives in Jamaica and loves going to listen to loud music at parties done by his hero, DJ King George. When he moved to New York at age 13 though, he didn't have that cool music to listen to anymore and he didn't know where he fit in. Then he grew up and realized he loved basketball and track which got him the nickname Kool Herc. His father bought a huge sound system that Kool Herc started to mess around with and then remembered his dream of becoming a DJ ...more
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