Coming on the heels of Notorious B.I.G.’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Bronx, the birthplace of hip-hop, honored four of their own.
An event, epic enough to have the street closed by NYPD, the Windows of Hip-Hop and the borough president’s office held their 2019 award ceremony at Beatstro at 135 Alexander Avenue on Tuesday, January 14 in the south Bronx.
The Windows of Hip Hop and the borough president presented honorees with the 2020 Element of Hip Hop Awards for their contributions to the genre, while celebrating the rich cultural roots of hip-hop’s history.
Grandmaster Caz said it best as he introduced crowd favorite Fat Joe to say a few words.
“To artists that come from the Bronx that keep reinforcing our role and the role we played in this culture, it could have been forgotten,” Caz said. “Shout out to people like KRS-One and all the other artists who made anthems and kept the Bronx on their backs.”
Honorees included owner of The Source Magazine Londell McMillian, founder of Fever Records Sal Abbatiello, VJ and video director of Video Music Box Ralph McDaniels, and famous producer and rapper Slick Rick.
Another mentionable attendee was Melle Mel and DJ Red Alert gave a surprise performance.
“The important part of this event is to promote and preserve hip-hop and this is what it is,” CEO of the Windows of Hip-Hop Melissa Libran said.
The event kicked off with an open bar sponsored by Martell Cognac. Bartenders served cognac cocktails and savory lip smacking hor d’oeuvres were passed out while the in-house DJ kicked up the jams.
McDaniels said to the Bronx Times he started his show, Video Music Box over 35 years ago, in 1983, because no one was playing hip hop at the time on television and he felt the call to fill the void.
He would interview hip hop artists at the clubs back then and put them on his Video Music Box.
On stage, Fat Joe said one of his fondest memories as a kid was running home at 3 p.m. after school to watch Video Music Box.
“Ralph McDaniels gave me a chance before I even had a record deal,” Fat Joe said. “He definitely doesn’t get enough credit for what he’s done for hip hop.”
Fat Joe also praised honoree Abbatiello for being one of the true trailblazers of hip- hop.
“I want to shout out to Sal Abbatiello,” Fat Joe said. “Sal helped push hip-hop to another level.”
Abbatiello founded Fever Records and opened the Disco Fever in 1976, one of the first hip-hop clubs in the south Bronx.
He pulled in talent like the infamous Grandmaster Flash from the streets.
In the coming years, Disco Fever saw turntable talent such as Luv-Bug Starski, DJ Hollywood, Eddie Cheba, DJ Jun-Bug, Brucie Bee, Sweet Gee, and Reggie Wells.
The night capped off with a speech by honoree Slick Rick, who zealously emphasized the future is in the hands of true innovators.
“The world is getting boring, it’s boring us, so we got to use our gifts to cure boredom,” Rick said.