DJ Kool Herc
When DJ Kool Herc spuns records for his sister's sweet sixteen birthday in the South Bronx in the 1970s, he didn't know that he would invent rap and hip hop. But that's what he did. This is the amazing story of how a kid scratched and rapped his way into starting an entire new music.
Here’s a twofer: an expert biography of a hip hop and rap pioneer, and a not-to-be-missed picture-book debut by Taylor, a Washington, D.C.–based artist. Herc, an aspiring DJ and reluctant immigrant from Jamaica to the Bronx, was working a house party at his Sedgwick Avenue housing project when inspiration struck: he put the same record on two turntables to extend the break in a song (“when the lyrics ended and the music bumped and thumped”) and added verbal riffs drawn from Jamaican chanting and toasting. “Kool Herc’s music made everybody happy,” writes Hill (Dave the Potter). “Even street gangs wanted to dance, not fight.” Hill walks the fine line between knowledgeable reporter and passionate fan (as is clear in his vivid author’s note), and Taylor does the same, using a meticulous inkline and washes of textured earth tones to convey both a sense of observational precision and a mural-like expressionism. Whether Taylor is zooming in on Herc’s dexterous hands manipulating the turntables or pulling back for a birds-eye view of the first break dance performances, he makes readers feel like they’re present at hip-hop’s inception.
Coming in 2012 with Roaring Brook Press
--George C. Wolfe, writer, director, and producer of the Public Theater, NYC
--from the Introduction
4. Middle Grade Series