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Avrete certamente visto il Doodle con cui oggi Google accoglie chi capita sulla sua home page. È semplicemente uno spettacolo: nel giro di un paio di minuti si può diventare dj e, con un paio di piatti virtuali, mixare, scratchare e fare dell’autentico beat.O dell’hip-hop.

In altre parole, si può fare quel che l’11 agosto 1973, Kool Herc (nella foto) fece per chi partecipò alla festa da lui organizzata al al 1520 di Sedgwick Avenue (Bronx, New York). Herc – che all’anagrafe risultava come Clive Cindy Campbell – era un dj giamaicano che organizzava feste nel proprio appartamento, a quell’indirizzo. In una di queste usò per la prima volta un mixer, attrezzo rivoluzionario che consentiva di non interrompere l’incedere del ritmo tra un brano e l’altro, e di far continuare a ballare le persone.

In realtà, a essere rivoluzionario non era il mixer in sé, ma il modo con il quale Kool Herc lo usava: su due vinili posti sui due piatti della postazione faceva andare la frazione delle canzoni funk in cui suonavano solo batteria e basso. Il mixer gli serviva per passare dall’uno all’altro, estendendo la parte strumentale e creando così una nuova canzone.

Per far cominciare il disco nel punto giusto, Kool Herc spostava l’asta a mano facendo cadere la puntina laddove doveva. Era un gesto da maestri, perché se si sbagliava il punto l’effetto di continuità saltava. E la gente avrebbe smesso di ballare, arrabbiandosi un po’.

Quel modo di «suonare» il mixer è considerato da molti il momento in nasce l’hip-hop. Che allora non si chiamava così: quel termine nasce anni dopo, quando un rapper – anzi, un MC (Master of Ceremonies) – di nome Cowboy volle prendere in giro un suo amico che stava nell’esercito imitando la cadenza delle marce militari. Su una base suonata da Grandmaster Flash, altro dj storico del genere, cominciò a dire «hip! hop! hip! hop!». E da allora, hip-hop lo fu per sempre.

Grandmaster Flash è storico perché è colui che cambiò la tecnica di uso del mixer. Invece di spostare l’asta, spostava il disco con le mani portandolo al punto giusto in cui doveva partire. Per capire quale fosse, lo segnava con un pastello: riportando ciclicamente la musica al punto da cui era partita, inventò i loop; e strisciando il disco sotto la puntina, scoprì quell’effetto diventato poi il sound icona dell’hip-hop, lo «scratch».

Nella storia dell’hip-hop c’è poi un momento decisivo: è il blackout di New York City del 13 luglio 1977. Quella sera, in un parco del Bronx, i dj Grandmaster Caz e Disco Wiz stavano facendo ballare un po’ di gente. All’improvviso la musica salta; sulle prime si pensa a un sovraccarico di energia, poi si realizza che tutta la città è al buio. Comincia il caos, qualcuno invita a saccheggiare i negozi. Caz ha un’illuminazione: molla Wiz a custodire l’attrezzatura e parte verso un rivenditore di elettronica. Forza l’ingresso e prende una e una sola cosa: un mixer Clubman Two-Two. Era ciò di cui aveva bisogno per fare la sua musica con il meglio della tecnologia allora disponibile.

Non tutti fecero come lui: centinaia di negozi furono presi d’assalto, e a essere portata via fu proprio molta attrezzatura audio. Un sacco di ragazzi che, fino a quel momento, potevano mixare nei propri sogni o con strumenti di fortuna poterono accedere al «ben di Dio». Da quella notte l’hip-hop smise di essere territorio per pochi e selezionati dj, e si trasformò in fenomeno di massa.

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