Over the next few years, hip-hop culture took shape in the black and Hispanic neighborhoods of New York City. The dancers started competing with each other during the breaks. They became known as “b-boys,” short for break boys. Soon, “b-girls” joined in too. Herc describes them as “the kings and queens of the party.”
But the break dancers were soon replaced by new royalty: the MCs, or masters of ceremony. MCs worked the microphone while their DJs played records. MCs rhymed to the beat, and over time their rhymes became increasingly long and sophisticated. They were the first rappers.
Finally, in 1979, a band called the Sugar Hill Gang recorded “Rapper’s Delight.” The song was nothing new to teens in New York City, but the rest of America was introduced to rap for the first time. The record sold millions of copies.
Before long, hip-hop was everywhere. Kids across the country started listening to rappers like Run-DMC. And in the 1990s, rap became one of the most popular types of music in the U.S.
Hip-hop started in a run-down section of New York City. Over the past 45 years, it has spread throughout the world.
According to DJ Kool Herc, rap music has a remarkable power: It has helped unite young people of all races and backgrounds. “They all have something in common that they love,” he explains.