How did hip hop move from the underground music scene of New York City to the suburbs of Kansas City?

That’s a question David Jonathan “DJ” Lee asks in his presentation about the story of hip hop. The beatboxer, singer, songwriter, teacher and speaker based out of Nashville. He addressed Springfield Technical Community College students on Feb. 10 in a virtual event that was part of the Black History Month celebration.

“I am the story of hip hop. You are the story of hip hop,” he says.

DJ Lee’s presentation was informative, educational and fun. He took an important part of cultural and music history and explained it in a way that kept us all engaged and captivated.  He started the story of where hip hop truly began and took us through a musical journey to the present day.  Through each step he infused music and images that got us all moving and grooving.  He even did a few beatboxing jams for us too.

DJ Lee shared with us how hip hop all began. In 1973, a DJ set up his turntables and introduced a technique at a South Bronx house party that would change music as many people knew it. His ability to switch from record to record — as well as isolate and repeat music breaks — led to the discovery of the hip hop genre

DJ Lee went on to explain how it took hold and the influences of the time that took it further – people such as Grandmaster Flash, Sugar Hill Gang, Run D.M.C., LL Cool J and N.W.A. –  (there are many to list).  He shared with us the important role women played in hip hop’s history and how it was a fashion influencer, made political statements, break dancing began to become popular and how graffiti was an important form of expression for hip hop.  We even saw Hip Hop break into the film and television industry (the movie “Breakin’” and television show “Fresh Prince of Bel Air”).

He shared with us the pinnacle turning points of hip hop, like when Aerosmith and Run DMC collaborated on the song “Walk this Way.” The collaboration was joining rock with hip hop, a moment when many started to take notice.  This opened the doors for many other collaborations in different areas such as pop music as well. 

Here are some of the reactions of STCC students.

Student Sherisa Michel called the event “a great experience” to watch and understand where it all originated from.

“I never knew hip hop was created in the Bronx, New York, and I definitely didn’t know what DC or MC stood for until yesterday.

“One of the quotes that I wrote from this event was that ‘this authenticity of hip hop music is what gave it its strength and validation to grow in the genre that it has become and reach a broader, more diverse, audience.’

“By just listening to all the music he played yesterday you can see how these songs majorly impacted us throughout the generations of music because everyone knew each song that was played. From beatboxing to spreading an important message through the song, hip hop has played a major role in society and its influences on people, and still does today.

“I’m happy I attended this event and got to enjoy all the throwback songs again. I was able to realize that hip hop will never die as long as we still have good musicians and artists out there and I’m glad to still be able to enjoy it today and many years from now.

Student Audrey Green said, “It was great!

“DJ Lee did an excellent job presenting the facts about the birth of the hip hop nation, influencing fashion, the music, the politics/civil rights, communities. “I love how he included the women as part of the birth of this group. The story of the break dancers was magnificent and how some of them transitioned to actors/actresses is phenomenal. It shows that it was a global movement and many people benefited from it.