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David Toop

(b New York, April 10, 1960). American DJ. He grew up in New York’s South Bronx, his musical eclecticism matched by his vision of African American social and racial unity. In the mid-1970s he was one of the pioneers of New York’s emergent hip hop culture of rapping, DJ mixing and scratching, graffiti and breakdancing. Along with two other Bronx DJs, Grandmaster Flash and Kool Herc, he began playing small percussive sections from obscure and unexpected rock, funk and electro-pop records as a rhythm track for rappers, interspersing the beats with extracts from cartoon melodies and film themes. When hip hop moved from school gymnasium dances to the mainstream world of record contracts, Bambaataa recorded ‘Zulu Nation Throwdown’ for the Harlem entrepreneur, Paul Winley. Unhappy with Winley, he moved to Tommy Boy Records, where his third contribution to that label, Planet Rock was recorded in ...

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Juluette Bartlett Pack

disc jockey, master of ceremonies, community leader, and rapper, was born in the South Bronx, New York City to parents of Jamaican and Barbadian descent. Although some sources list his birth name as Kevin Donovan, it is unclear whether that is the famously secretive Bambaataa's real name. His birthdate, often given as April 10, 1960, is probably on that day and month in 1957, given his attendance of high school by 1971. Bambaataa, an early developer of hip-hop music, is credited with being the first rapper. In introducing hip-hop culture to a worldwide audience during the 1970s, he gained the reputation as one of the godfathers of the genre.

In his early years Donovan organized the Savage Seven a Bronx River Projects area street gang which eventually became known as the Black Spades After observing the negative impact of gang activities on his community he endeavored to promote positive ...

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Jawana O. Southerland

groundbreaking singer and performing artist. Mary Jane Blige was born in the Bronx, New York; she grew up in Yonkers in the Schlobohm Housing Project. She faced the harsh conditions many poor urban teenagers deal with—crime-ridden neighborhoods, extreme peer pressure, and premature exposure to adult responsibility. Blige was one of four children. Her mother was a single parent who worked long hours. Blige's father left the family around 1975 and moved to Michigan; this made Blige tough and street savvy with a bad attitude about life and a hardened heart. While her street credibility would later enable her to become the most influential African American female vocalist of the past two decades, when she was growing up Blige could have had no idea she would reign as the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul for fifteen years.

Much like the legends Aretha Franklin and Whitney Houston, Blige began singing in a ...

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Robyn McGee

His father, the late Trevor George Smith, was a businessman and his mother, Geraldine Green, a homemaker. Both were immigrants from Jamaica. Smith has one brother, Paul, and four children.

Around 1989 Smith was given the moniker “Busta Rhymes” by fellow rapper Chuck D of the seminal hip-hop group Public Enemy. The original George “Buster” Rhymes was an NFL running back known for his charismatic, freewheeling style.

Busta Rhymes attended George Westinghouse Career and Technical School in Brooklyn with other iconic rappers, Sean Carter, aka Jay Z; Christopher Wallace, aka Biggie Smalls, the Notorious B.I.G; Earl Simmons, aka D.M.X.; and Sean Combs later known as Puff Daddy and P Diddy As teenagers Rhymes and Jay Z famously held a speed rapping battle in the high school cafeteria which was won by Jay Z After living in Liverpool England for a short time Rhymes returned to New York ...

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Ulrich Adelt

rap artist and entrepreneur, was born in Miami Beach, Florida. His father, Stanley Campbell, who emigrated from Jamaica, was a janitor, and his mother, Yvonne Campbell, worked as a beautician. Campbell grew up in the impoverished Liberty City area of Miami and had to share a bedroom with his four brothers. Although his family was relatively stable and able to send his three older brothers to college, Campbell had to learn to survive in a dangerous environment. In a gang-related incident in Campbell's neighborhood, for instance, a fourteen-year-old male shot to death his best friend in 1986. Campbell developed his entrepreneurial skills early on by selling ice cream and lemonade from his mother's kitchen to children from the neighborhood. He went to predominantly white schools on football scholarships and started disc-jockeying for school dances.

Before Campbell became a member of the rap group 2 Live Crew in ...

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Andrew Du Bois

Born in Miami, Florida, Luther Campbell began his musical career in 1979 with Miami's Ghetto Style DJs, but found success with a West Coast group he established called 2 Live Crew. With Campbell at the helm, 2 Live Crew helped create a genre of Rap variously known as bass music, booty music, and Miami bass. Bass music features quick beats, exaggerated low-end frequencies, and highly sexualized lyrics reminiscent of black comedians like Richard Pryor, Redd Foxx, and Rudy Ray Moore. The group's debut album, The 2 Live Crew Is What We Are (1986), featured underground classics that reinvigorated Hip-Hop, such as “Throw the ‘D.’”

The group's graphic, if goofy, lyrics and outrageous stage show did not go unnoticed. In June 1990, in the wake of intensive anti-Crew lobbying efforts by Florida governor Bob Martinez and the American Family Association a Broward ...

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Chuck D  

Alice Knox Eaton

rapper, educator, and music entrepreneur, was born Carlton Douglas Ridenhour in Queens, New York, to Lorenzo and Judy Ridenhour, both political activists. Lorenzo worked as a warehouse manager before starting his own trucking company at age forty. Ridenhour's home was full of the sounds of jazz and R&B, and he grew up with an acute awareness of the political events of the 1960s as they unfolded: the murder of Medgar Evers, the 1963 March on Washington, and the assassinations of the Kennedys, Black Panther leaders, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr. The family, including his sister Lisa and brother Erik, moved from predominantly black Queensbridge to another largely black community in Roosevelt, Long Island, when Ridenhour was eleven. He spent the summers of 1970 and 1971 attending programs at Adelphi and Hofstra universities on the African American experience further shaping his early sense of the ...

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Vonzele David Reed

hip hop producer and businessman, was born Sean John Combs in Harlem in New York City to Melvin and Janice Combs. Combs's childhood years were spent in Harlem, where his father worked for the board of education and as a cab driver. His mother was a model. Eager to provide for his family, Melvin Combs succumbed to the lure of criminal activity, which ultimately led to his murder in 1973. In 1982 Janice moved her family to suburban Mount Vernon, New York, in an effort to escape the growing violence and unemployment in Harlem.

Following her husband s death Janice worked as a teacher s assistant bus driver and night attendant for children with cerebral palsy His mother s determination to provide for her family influenced Combs to work after school beginning at age twelve Too young to formally apply for his own paper route Combs convinced an ...

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Beatriz Rivera-Barnes

singer, hip-hop impresario, and songwriter. Combs has also been known as Puff, Puffy, Sean John, Puff Daddy, and Diddy. Sean John Combs spent part of his childhood in Mount Vernon, New York, until in 1972 his father was murdered on his way home from a party. After the tragedy the Combs family moved to the Bronx, where Sean attended a Catholic school before going to Howard University in Washington, D.C. Dropping out of Howard, Combs became an intern for Uptown Records, and he later became a top executive until he was fired in 1992.

During his tenure at Uptown Records, Combs produced successful albums with artists such as Mary J. Blige Father MC and Jodeci After his departure he worked as a remixer and created Bad Boy Entertainment which soon became a multimillion dollar business Bad Boy signed two hit artists Craig Mack and the ...

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Andrew Du Bois

Born in Harlem and raised in Mount Vernon, New York, Sean Combs attended Howard University and started working in the music industry as an intern at Andre Harrell's Uptown Records. Combs moved quickly through the ranks, producing hits for Uptown artists such as Jodeci and Mary J. Blige. At the age of twenty-two he was made a company vice president.

In 1993 Combs left Uptown to found Bad Boy Entertainment, where he began to assemble a crew of Hip-Hop and Rhythm and Blues talent. Combs served as executive producer on both albums by Bad Boy's biggest star, Notorious B.I.G. Following the 1997 shooting death of Notorious B.I.G., Combs (who rapped as “Puff Daddy”) recorded a tribute song entitled “I'll Be Missing You.” The single was a smash hit, and it sent Puff Daddy's solo debut album, No Way Out straight to the top of the ...

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Dr. Dre  

Hua Hsu

hip-hop artist, disc jockey, and record executive, was born André Romel Young in Los Angeles, California, the son of Verna Griffin and Theodore Young. Both of his parents were semi-professional musicians. They divorced shortly after André's birth; Griffin attended college and then worked for an aircraft company. She raised André and his younger brother, Tyree, in Compton, California; she would later marry Warren Griffin Jr. and they would have a son, Warren “Warren G” Griffin III. As a child Young acquired the nickname Dr. Dre because of his great admiration for the basketball player Julius “Dr. J” Erving. Dre demonstrated a fascination with music, a passion his mother encouraged by buying him equipment and designing costumes for his performances.

In his teens Dre developed a reputation as a skilled disc jockey quickly graduating from performing at neighborhood parties to Los Angeles area nightclubs ...

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Dr. Dre  

Daniel Douglas

pioneering rap artist and producer and successful entrepreneur. Born Andréé Romell Young, Dr. Dre became prominent with the rap group The World Class Wreckin Cru, working shows and parties in Los Angeles. In 1986 he teamed with Ice Cube (O'Shea Jackson) and Eazy-E (Eric Lynn Wright) to form the groundbreaking group NWA (Niggaz with Attitude), releasing their first album in 1987 and subsequent records in 1990 and 1991 Dr Dre was the producer on all three albums his unique style of G funk beats became a trademark that outlasted the group All of NWA s albums went on to achieve platinum status denoting 2 million unit sales despite a lack of support from MTV and most mainstream radio stations The group was one of the first of a new genre that came to be known as gangsta rap This particular style of rap came ...

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Jason Philip Miller

recording artist, producer, and actress, was born Melissa Elliott in Portsmouth, Virginia, to Ronnie Elliot, a U.S. Marine, and Patricia Elliott, who worked for a power company. She was an only child, and the family—owing to Ronnie's service—was frequently on the move. That family life was often difficult and traumatic. Elliott's father was physically abusive, both to Elliott and to her mother. On one occasion, he threatened his daughter and wife with a firearm. Elliott has also spoken openly of her sexual abuse by a cousin. Since 2003 Elliot has been prominent in speaking out against domestic violence, as a national spokesperson for the Break the Cycle campaign. When Elliott was fourteen, her mother packed up her belongings and fled with her daughter in tow.

At a very young age Elliott set her sights on a career in music and entertainment In school she recalled ...

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Shennette Garrett-Scott

best known as Frosty Freeze was born in the Bronx New York of Afro Puerto Rican heritage His parents and siblings names are not known Frost took his nickname Freeze and then Frosty Freeze from the break dancers freezing in position after completing a series of break dancing moves to signal the end of one phase before starting another before allowing a fellow dancer to come in or a rival dancer to respond with his or her own series of moves Frost created signature freeze poses However he gained acclaim through his innovations in break dance moves and performance in the late 1970s and early 1980s He was particularly known for his dynamic acrobatic dance moves A fearless performer who did not shy away from daring and sometimes risky physical moves he is credited with inventing the Suicide a dance move that involved flipping in the air and landing flat ...

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Vonzele David Reed

disc jockey, producer, and pioneer of hip hop known for his use of turntables as a rhythmic instrument, was born Joseph Saddler in Barbados, an island in the West Indies. The Saddler family left Barbados in the 1960s and migrated to the Bronx, a borough in New York City. Saddler's father was an avid music fan and record collector. Risking punishment, Saddler would go behind his father's back to use his prized stereo equipment to listen to the albums, which led to his appreciation and interest in records and electronics. While attending Samuel Gompers Vocational Technical High School in the Bronx, Saddler was formally trained in electronics. This understanding later helped him manipulate the turntable and contribute to the creation of a new form of music.Growing up in the Bronx in the early 1970s Saddler witnessed the emergence of the hip hop culture Graffiti was the dominant ...

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David Toop

(b Barbados, c1957). American DJ. He grew up in the Bronx, New York, listening to his father’s jazz records and with a keen interest in electronics. He was inspired by disco DJs such as Pete ‘DJ’ Jones, along with the original hip hop DJ, Kool Herc. After building his own mixing unit in order to switch between records on two turntables, he developed the technique of Scratching. Concerned that his innovations were distracting to dancers, he began working with rappers Cowboy (Keith Wiggins) and Melle Mel (Melvin Glover). In 1976 the group expanded to become Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. Initially recording for Brass Records and Enjoy, they signed a contract with Sugarhill Records. After releasing party records such as Freedom and Birthday Party the group recorded two tracks that changed the course of hip hop The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the ...

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Terencia Kyneata Joseph

was born Joseph Robert Saddler Jr. on 1 January 1958 in Bridgetown, Barbados, to Regina and Joseph “Bra” Saddler Sr. The family, which included four other children (Violet, Carmetta, Regina, and Lilly), migrated to New York City while Joseph Jr. was still a toddler. There, they rented an apartment in the Bronx.

Joseph Sr. owned an extensive record collection that became the nursery for his young son’s passion for music. Joseph Jr. was forbidden to touch his father’s records but could not resist, spending hours listening to the sounds of African American soul and funk artists like The Miracles and James Brown while his father was away from the home. Joseph Jr.’s fascination went beyond the recorded music, though; he was also captivated by the instruments that released the sounds.

Joseph Sr moved out of the Bronx apartment when his son was 8 years old taking with him the prized ...

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Now regarded as one of the founding groups—along with Afrika Bambaataa and Kool Herc—of what Hip-Hop and Rap fans call old school rap, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five was formed in 1977. Flash, born Joseph Saddler, began working as a disc jockey (DJ) at local parties in the early 1970s while still attending high school in the Bronx. Like some other DJs of the time, Flash began making a kind of musical collage by playing two or more records at once and experimenting with scratching—manually moving the needle across the disc to create a new, rhythmic sound. Flash teamed up with fellow DJs Cowboy (Keith Wiggins), Melle Mel (Melvin Glover), Kid Creole (Nathaniel Glover, Melle Mel's brother), Mr. Ness (Eddie Morris), and Rahiem (Guy Williams)—the Furious Five.

The group became the most popular rap act in New York City playing parties balls ...

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Regina N. Barnett

hip-hop pioneer, was born Melvin Glover in New York, New York. Glover gained widespread acclaim as the first self proclaimed emcee, Grandmaster Melle Mel of the hip-hop group Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five.

Glover's exposure to hip hop came through parties known as “jams” in New York City. He and his older brother, Nathaniel “Nate” Glover, were originally break dancers (Nate would become Kidd Creole of the Furious Five). Citing Coke La Rock and Timmy Tim as his favorite DJs, the Glover brothers began imitating the DJ “shout outs” to the crowd but adding their own verses. Childhood friend Eddie “Scorpio” Morris joined Glover and his brother to start an MC group, the Furious Five, which included childhood friends Guy “Raheim” Williams and Keith “Cowboy” Wiggins. The group evolved with DJ Grandmaster Flash, becoming Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five in 1979 Glover credited the name Furious ...

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rapper, was one of three sons and two daughters born to Daniel Lee Hale, a pastor, and Ruth Holmes, a homemaker, in Long Beach, California. Though Hale never found the solo success that many of his West Coast rapper contemporaries did, his guest vocals contributed mightily to collaborative albums, and earned him four Grammy nominations and popularity among his peers.

When Hale was still a small child, his family moved to Clarksdale, Mississippi, where his father became the pastor at Life Line Baptist Church. Living above the sanctuary, Hale spent much of his time at the church, and started singing in the choir with his older sister, Pamela, when he was six years old. After his parents’ divorce in 1983 Hale moved back to Long Beach with his siblings and mother and continued singing at his new house of worship New Hope Baptist Church He attended Long ...