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Coke La Rock
Coke La Rock 2008
Coke La Rock performing with Kool Herc at a 2009 event in the Bronx

Also known as

Coco La Rock, A-1 Coke, Nasty Coke

Born

25 April 1955 (aged 61)

Genres

Hip hop

Coke La Rock (born 25 April 1955) is an American rapper who is often credited as the first MC in the history of hip hop. La Rock was a friend and musical partner of DJ Kool Herc. La Rock performed alongside Kool Herc for his first party to celebrate Herc's sister Cindy's birthday in 1973. At this party and several parties afterwards, La Rock had no stage name and performed out of sight from the audience, so no one knew who was doing the rapping.

Coke La Rock & Kool Herc

Coke La Rock and Kool Herc in the early 1970s.

His original raps were shout-outs to his friends, before the actual poetry emerged in his lyrics. He originated phrases such as "You rock and you don't stop" and "Hotel, motel, you don't tell, we won't tell" (which was later used in The Sugarhill Gang's single "Rapper's Delight", but La Rock received no credit).

La Rock's raps were always purely improvisational, unlike those of later 70s-era rap groups who wrote down and rehearsed their lyrics, such as the Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five and The Cold Crush Brothers. According to La Rock, while rapping "at first I would just call out [my friends'] names. Then I pretended dudes had double-parked cars; that was to impress the girls. Truthfully, I wasn't there to rap, I was just playing around." Nonetheless, La Rock's raps (which were very similar to the Jamaican tradition of "toasting") would, as with much else at Kool Herc's parties in the mid-1970s, serve as a basic model for other hip-hop artists that would come onto the Bronx music scene by the end of the decade.

As other nascent hip hop groups patterned themselves after Herc and La Rock and improved on their formula, the popularity of the Herculoids began to fade as early as 1977. After Kool Herc was stabbed at a party, La Rock decided to step down from hip hop and let the younger generation move in. Since he'd had a long run lasting several years of being on the top of the Bronx hip hop scene, La Rock didn't want to continue if murder was going to be a part of it. 

In contrast to other early Bronx hip hop artists such as Afrika Bambaataa and Grandmaster Flash, Coke La Rock - as well as his partner Kool Herc - never achieved any recording success, and never recorded any material. However, in 2008 a song entitled "Hello - Merry Christmas Baby!" was released, a song that is deemed the first recording featuring La Rock. The song was included on a Sedgwick & Cedar album as part of a special holiday compilation to pay homage to the birthplace of hip hop.

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