A John Steptoe New Talent Award Winner
Before there was hip hop, there was DJ Kool Herc.
On a hot day at the end of summer in 1973 Cindy Campbell threw a back-to-school party at a park in the South Bronx. Her brother, Clive Campbell, spun the records. He had a new way of playing the music to make the breaks—the musical interludes between verses—longer for dancing. He called himself DJ Kool Herc and this is When the Beat Was Born. From his childhood in Jamaica to his youth in the Bronx, Laban Carrick Hill's book tells how Kool Herc came to be a DJ, how kids in gangs stopped fighting in order to breakdance, and how the music he invented went on to define a culture and transform the world.
“...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” —Publishers Weekly
“Hill also highlights the positive social force of hip-hop and the boundless energy of musical joy. It's all matched by Taylor's freewheeling artwork. A treat from an underrepresented corner of music history.” —Booklist
“Hill's descriptive writing is paired with Taylor's vibrant artwork, which features large crowds dancing, close-up shots of breakdancing, or Herc's hands masterfully spinning the dual turntables.” —School Library Journal
“Hill's narration deftly balances detail and momentum, addressing technical innovations while conveying the excitement of listeners on the scene at the birth of something new. Taylor's delicate linework is swept with streaks of earthy browns and muted greens and reds, suggesting swirls and blasts of sound bombarding the old school crowds.” —BCCB