It’s every Hip Hop fan’s dream is to visit the birthplace of Hip Hop – NEW YORK CITY. After years of waiting for ‘the right time’ I was finally here. Excited, a friend hooked me up with a seat on the HUSH TOURS which lead me to visit major sites for the creation and the evolution of Hip Hop in New York through the Bronx and Harlem.
The Bronx remains to hip-hop what New Orleans is to jazz, Nashville for country and Memphis for blues.
You can learn more about the New York roots of hip-hop by bus on Hush Tours”NY TIMES
Each tour is lead by a reputable member of the Hip Hop community who are empowered to include their own story. It’s personal. I met with my friendly, passionate and knowledgeable guides and MCs: Rayza and Reggie Reg for what was going to be a very interactive tour full of good vibes and energy. A little freestyle was dropped here and there and the tour doesn’t stop come rain or shine!
1520 Sedgwick Ave, Bronx
First stop was 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx where DJ Kool Herc (Clive Campbell) held one of the first Hip Hop House parties on 11 Aug 1973. This is recognized as the birthplace of Hip Hop.
DJ Kool Herc
1520 Sedgwick is the Bethlehem of Hip-Hop culture
BRONX RIVER HOUSING
If there is one person who personifies the spirit of New York for me its – Alien Ness. International president of the Mighty Zulu Kingz, formed in 1973 as the offical bboy/ bgirl crew for Zulu Nation, we’ve talked Hip Hop and life throughout the years connecting with like minds in various countries and events. It was nice to finally link in the home of Hip Hop which made my experience complete. We met near Bronx River Houses where Hip Hop parties used to go off for some real authentic Spanish food at Cuchifritos. I appreciated them going to the trouble to make me a vegetarian meal off menu – an all cheese Mofongo.
Spanish Harlem’s Graffiti Hall of Fame
New York is the birthplace of graffiti writing, it developed from tags to full-on complex pieces with characters and stylized letters. Schoolyards were the typical congregation areas for writers to practice their art and meet each other. One of the first schoolyards was in Harlem and became known as the ‘Hall of Fame’.
RIP BIG L – Harlem
While in Harlem to pay our respects to Big L, one of the most prolific storytellers, this mural has been dedicated to his memory. He was killed in a drive-by shooting across the road in front of this 99 cents store. Rest in Power.
The streets of Harlem were crowded with people and police cars, at first we didn’t know what was going on and then we found out Cam’ron who is originally from Harlem was doing a show at the Apollo Theater and naturally everyone had come out to buy a ticket. It was a roadblock!
After the tour I went back to Harlem to look around Malcolm X Boulevard and the iconic green domed mosque. after the tour to check out Malcolm Shabazz Harlem Market where I picked up some some ‘All Lives Matter’ earrings carved from wood and other unique items such as Malcolm X tote back stating, ‘Revolutionary’ in red.
Apollo Theater, Harlem
I went to take a peek inside the legendary Apollo Theater. It opened in 1914 and was vital in the emergence of jazz, swing, bebop, R&B, gospel, blues, and soul. Many talented artists have passed through its doors ever since and it’s an important part of the history of NYC. I ended up having a really deep conversation with one of the staff members about 90’s Hip Hop and some of my favorite childhood artists such as DMX who had been through these doors.
Yankee Stadium in the Bronx
A quick stop outside the Yankee baseball Stadium in the Bronx. The home field for the New York Yankees of Major League Baseball, and one of the most recognised logos worldwide.
New York City Museum
This has to be one of the freshest museums I’ve been to where is Hip Hop exhibited. Over 1.5 million items, I found a few artefacts from the development of Hip Hop, outlining its history and origins. A great collection of graffiti books to chose from also.
A small cypher went down at the museum headed by bboy Spydee from Dynamic Rockers crew as part of the HUSH Tour. Teaching some basic uprock steps followed by a circle where everyone had to get down.
Then the last stop was Frank E. Campbell – The Funeral Chapel – the final resting place for Hip Hop legends; Aaliyah, Christopher ‘Biggie Smalls’ Wallace and Albert ‘Prodigy’ Johnson. Rest in Power.
Kids Breaking League 1st Anniversary
bboying has always been a massive influence on my life and New York is where it all began. While I was here I had to check out some battles. Later that weekend Kid Glyde let me know the kids breaking league were celebrating their 1st anniversary so I had to pass through and show some love. Run by Dynamic Rockers, it was inspiring to see the next generation of bboys and bgirls being taught how to dance so they could pass it down to future generations too. Keeping tradition it was giving these kids something positive to work towards and express their creativity. I had to smile when I saw someone looking through the window saying, ‘Kids breakdancing, only in New York!’
There are a lot of Hip Hop spots in New York, too many to mention in one post, but I will be back for more!