Rapper, producer, fashion designer, restaurateur, grass-roots organizer and Broadway actor? Sean "Diddy" Combs might be the hardest-working man in hip-hop. He talks to Terry Gross about his career — and the "characters" behind his ever-changing names.
You may know them as Mike D, MCA, and Ad-Rock. Or as Michael Diamond, Adam Yauch, and Adam Horovitz. Or simply, the Beastie Boys. For their new concert film, Awesome; I... Shot That!, they gave cameras to their fans in the crowd.
Born Carlton Ridenhour, Chuck D was the founder of Public Enemy. Formed in 1987, the rap group was a pioneering act that created explosive, politically conscious rap that focused on an urban world of limited opportunity, drugs and violence.
DJ Kool Herc is known as the father of the DJ breakbeat, part of the foundation of modern hip-hop. He also wrote the introduction to the recent history of hip-hop, Can't Stop Won't Stop. Kool Herc kicks off Fresh Air's Hip-Hop Week. (This interview originally aired March 30, 2005.)
When the hit rap song "The Message" by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five came out in the early 1980s, many rappers regarded it as an inspiration and political message. Melle Mel was the original vocalist on the song. (This interview originally aired August 4, 1992.)
DJ Kool Herc is the father of the breakbeat, the deejay practice of isolating and repeating "breaks," the most danceable portions of songs; breakbeats make up the foundation of modern hip-hop. Herc has written the introduction to the new book Can't Stop, Won't Stop: A History of the Hip Hop Generation (St.Martins, 2005) by Jeff Chang.
He is also known as "Questlove" of the hip-hop group The Roots. The Grammy award-winning sextet has six albums to its credit. Their latest CD is Phrenology. Their first single from the album is "Break You Off." One reviewer writes, "To fully savor the sound, you've got to commit to spending time with The Roots, to wallow in both the music and the message.
At the dawn of hip-hop, he recorded with the Furious Five. Their hits included "The Message" and "White Lines (Don't Do it)." Nearly 30 years ago, Flash created the "Quick Mix Theory" — the process of blending one music break with another. This interview first aired July 8, 2002.