While he was not often credited during his life, Don Cornelius is also one of the forefathers of hip hop. Don Cornelius began as a radio disc jockey, who soon began promoting local rap shows, which led to a local television station giving him his own show. Soon, Cornelius took over the business side of the show, which was named “Soul Train.”
Before such shows as “Rap City” and “Yo! MTV Raps,” there was “Soul Train” and the biggest urban stars of the time appeared on the show. Once hip hop emerged and became the most-popular form of urban music, rappers and rap music began appearing on the show. Along the way, Don Cornelius became a major part of black history, having the longest-running syndicated show in history.
In 2006, “Soul Train” ended their production of new episodes, but has continued to be a major part of the hip hop culture. Since 1987, the Soul Train Music Awards take place on a yearly basis, highlighting the top hip hop and R&B artists of the year. The yearly ceremony usually broadcasts on BET.
The 2012 Soul Train Music Awards will be more somber than the ones of past years. Earlier this morning, Don Cornelius, the founder of the iconic “Soul Train” brand, was found dead. Apparently, Cornelius died from a self-inflicted gun shot wound and law enforcement arrived at his Sherman Oaks, CaliforniaÂ home at 4:00 am. While there is no evidence of foul play, the Los Angeles Police Department will still be investigating the case.
During a 2010 interview with The Los Angeles Times, Don Cornelius discussed his hopes to develop a film about “Soul Train” and how he helped to get the show off the ground. Unfortunately, Don Cornelius will not be able to watch the final product, as he is dead at 75-years-old.