Richard Gasper didn’t exactly fit the look of a hip-hop pioneer.
Raised in Halawa, an area of Oahu most known for its proximity to Pearl Harbor and its max security correctional facility – the only one in the state – he rocked slippers, board shorts, half-cut tees and jobber hats with tails in the back. Gasper was more into surfing and heavy metal as a kid, but everything changed when his cousin came over and played Zapp’s funk hit “More Bounce to the Ounce.” His cousin started popping — dancing characterized by quick, explosive movements to make it look like joints were popping out of their sockets — and Gasper was hooked.
It was 1980, just seven years after hip-hop was born in a Bronx apartment party and less than a year after it rhymed its way into national consciousness with The Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight.” Before the internet allowed anyone and everyone to call themselves rappers, before MTV became the arbiter of music and culture for a generation, hip-hop traveled 5,000 miles from its New York City birthplace to the shores of Hawaiʻi…
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