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The birth of hip-hop happened 44 years ago at a block party in the Bronx

An interactive Google Doodle celebrates the innovation that spawned the genre by letting you spin records yourself.

Aja Romano writes about pop culture, media, and ethics. Before joining Vox in 2016, they were a staff reporter at the Daily Dot. A 2019 fellow of the National Critics Institute, they’re considered an authority on fandom, the internet, and the culture wars.

Today’s Google Doodle is a fun, five-minute education on the origins of hip-hop in the form of a bouncy interactive game that lets you spin a record case full of the genre’s classics.

The doodle celebrates the 44th anniversary of what may be the world’s most famous block party — the 1973 back-to-school party in the Bronx where DJ Kool Herc began using records on two different turntables to combine and extend the instrumental breaks in the music he was playing. It’s this extension that led to the musical revolution that would become hip-hop.

Google’s honorary doodle takes the form of a fun animated tutorial in which artist and hip-hop legend Fab 5 Freddy takes you through the basics of how hip-hop began. He explains how Herc’s innovation led to breakdancing — literally dancing through the break — and to improvising vocal lines over the instrumentals, a.k.a. rap.

Then he lets you try out the record spins yourself, explaining how you can adjust the crossfader and beats per minute to control the turntables. You can choose from a virtual crate full of seminal originating hip-hop artists like Grandmaster Flash and the Lafayette Afro Rock Band. Mouse over the info for each record and you’ll even learn which tracks were famously sampled by other artists in later songs.

After you’re done with that, you can take the record for a spin. Google will even reward you with a trophy when you execute a perfect record scratch.