a 2 i m


Fifty years ago on August 11, 1973, in the recreation room of the building at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue, in the South Bronx, a significant event took place that would forever shape the course of music history. It was on this day that Clive Campbell, a Jamaican immigrant to the South Bronx, also known as DJ Kool Herc, unknowingly laid the foundation for a groundbreaking new musical genre that would be called hip-hop.

While DJ Kool Herc’s initial intention was simply to raise some money for his sister’s birthday, his experimental approach to music would lead to the birth of a cultural and musical revolution. Herc introduced the South Bronx community to the concept of large Jamaican-style sound systems, creating an immersive and vibrant experience for his audience. In addition, he pioneered the practice of extending and combining the best parts of various recordings, bringing together the raw energy of different tracks.

Using two copies of a record on separate turntables, Herc developed the technique of spinning the same section consecutively, allowing the crowd to fully immerse themselves in the infectious beats. Herc also introduced the concept of “breaks,” which involved playing the most exciting sections of songs and juxtaposing them to create dynamic new combinations.

Herc’s groundbreaking techniques soon influenced a new generation of musicians and artists. One the most prominent being George Saddler, known as Grandmaster Flash, who further expanded on Herc’s innovations. Flash introduced “punch phasing,” a technique in which he would skillfully overlap and layer different breaks, creating complex and mesmerizing new compositions out of existing recordings.

These experiments in the South Bronx became the foundation for what we now recognize as hip-hop. As these techniques evolved, they were eventually recorded and developed by independent labels such as Sugar Hill, Tommy Boy, Profile Def Jam, and many more. These independent labels played a pivotal role in the growth and commercialization of hip-hop, bringing this once-underground movement into the mainstream.

Today, hip-hop stands as one of the most dominant and influential musical genres in the world. Its cultural impact has reached far beyond musical boundaries, inspiring countless artists across various genres and amplifying the voices of marginalized communities. The American Association of Independent Music (A2IM) recognizes and celebrates the evolution and independence of hip-hop, paying tribute to its rich history and its continued influence on the music industry.

– Dr Richard James Burgess MBE
New York City, 11 August 2023

About A2IM:
A2IM is a 501(c)(6) not-for-profit trade organization headquartered in New York City that exists to support and strengthen the independent recorded music sector. Membership currently includes a broad coalition of more than 700 Independently-owned American music labels. A2IM represents these independently owned small and medium-sized enterprises’ (SMEs) interests in the marketplace, in the media, on Capitol Hill, and as part of the global music community. In doing so, it supports a key segment of America’s creative class that represents America’s diverse musical cultural heritage. Billboard Magazine identified the Independent music label sector as 37.32 percent of the music industry’s U.S. recorded music sales market in 2016 based on copyright ownership, making Independent labels collectively the largest music industry sector.

Learn more about A2IM here.
For information about how to join our community, see here.