Google celebrates the 44th anniversary of hip hop with an interactive Doodle that lets you drop the beat

In the dingy spaces of Bronx, one of the five boroughs of New York, one fine day, Clive Campbell was playing music in a ‘Back to School’ party at 1520, Sedgwick Avenue to a crowd of teenagers. The 18 year old’s tryst with reggae didn’t go down well with the crowd, which gave a sense that reggae, an offspring of beats music, was fading away. When the crowd didn’t respond much to this, he switched to percussive rhythm. The crowd went wild. And thus from the ‘Burning Bronx’ arose a hip hop flame, DJ Kool Herc, who gave the much used 'break' to this crowd.

Image: Google

Image: Google

On 11 August, Google celebrates the 44th birth of this breakthrough music style, which, in a matter of time took White America and birthed a multi-million dollar industry. After graffiti, break music was the next big thing that arose from this culture. The Google Doodle celebrates it with an animated video with Fab 5 Freddy, an 80’s ‘Yo! MTV Raps’ host. In the animated description, the doodle explains the iconic ‘break’ moment. In this infotainment video, Fab 5 Freddy illustrates the history of hip hop while accompanied with a DJ and a Master of Ceremony (MC) who would rhyme lyrics in between the music.

The doodle features graffiti by Cey Adams along with interactive turn tables which lets us choose music from a collection of vinyls from Betty Wright, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five and the Lafayette Afro Rock Band. A user can choose their favorite recordings from the collection present and 'break' it to create their very own b-boy moment. The BPM (Beats per minute) gets further segmented to control the two tracks.

Often interspersed with a ‘Boom’ and a ‘Bap’, the point of hip hop was to veer away from the psychedelic, sparkly disco to the hard hitting and resilient hip hop which was trying to reach out to its distant cousin, blues. Kurtis Blow, one of the forefathers of hip hop music, says, “On one side of the street, big buildings would be burning down….while kids on the other side would be putting up graffiti with messages like ‘Up with Hope. Down with Dope’, ‘I will Survive’, and ‘Lord, Show me the Way!’” Clearly, it was a cry for help.

Coming from a history of reggae music and beats poetry, hip hop was a fusion of blues, rap and reggae. It’s the turntables and musical creativity that gave birth to hip hop. As a genre of music, hip hop had a cultural depth which spoke of the Hispanic's and Black’s cultural marginalization. It was time for these people to be recognised, and hip hop was the medium for this. Jimmy Castor Bunch’s, ‘It’s Just Begun’, had a rebellious spirit in it talking about, ‘doing your thing’.

In the economically and socially depressive city of Bronx, hip hop was a breath of fresh air for its youth who was mostly involved in the drug culture yearning for something better. It was the DJs and the MCs who came forward to save the youth. And Herc Kool, along with his MC, Coke La Rock.

Google this time has taken a ‘break’ from its usual doodle pieces and has brought forth an interactive experience for users around the world. This is one of the few Google Doodles with a global reach. Users can choose from a number of records in a bin and mix two of them together. There is a slider to adjust the volumes on the two turntables. The selection is made up of tracks that were popular when Hip Hop music was just emerging, including songs from Debarge, George Clinton, Prince Paul and Zapp. There are also a selection of tracks from Google.

There is a gamification feature that lets you unlock achievements for completing various actions with the turntables. Each record has an indicator for the BPM used in the tracks, but the BPM sliders do not give you the option of specifying a particular BPM for a record. This Doodle could have been more fun with the ability to share remixes. Users can scratch the discs, and we recommend using a smartphone for getting the best experience from this Doodle.

Updated Date: Aug 11, 2017 13:53 PM