44 years. Yes, that’s an unusual landmark to make a fuss about. It’s 44 years since Kool Herc first dropped a break with two turntables at a party in the Bronx and gave birth to the genre we know as Hip-Hop. Google are celebrating the event with a pretty cool doodle that not only gives you a potted history of turntablism but also leaves you with a bunch of records and a pair of decks to get you mixing and scratching.
In the record collection you get about 35 pieces of vinyl that have been used in classic tracks over the years. It amply shows the diversity of sources for cool beats and the creativity used to work them into a new form of music. You’ve got The Message from Grandmaster Flash sure, but how about the Incredible Bongo Band, Rare Earth, Skull Snaps or DeBarge? Chose a couple of records, slap them on and you have an instantly recognisable beat or break. You don’t get the whole record though, just a looped sample of the section that was pulled out by DJs.
Once on the deck you can crossfade between the two. They are auto-synced and beat matched, but they don’t have to be. Take your mouse and start scratching. It’s a bit ungainly, but it works and you can just about pick up a beat and drop it in. If you an iPad then you can use your fingers to scratch and crossfade at the same time. Couldn’t get that to work on a Windows Surface or touch screen though.
But it’s great fun and it’s good to hear these beats again and read up on the origins of one of the biggest musical phenomenons of that last 50 years. Just go to Google.com and click on the Doodle.