The future of the Bronx will be guided by its role in the development of hip hop. The music genre’s pioneer performers have stepped forward to redirect their energy to influencing the borough’s resurgence.
Nobody thought that a kid named Clive Campbell DJing a party in the basement of 1520 Sedgewick Avenue would change the world during the summer of 1973.
Certainly nobody thought that the fresh, funky sound he spun would take over as the world’s most popular genre of music in 2018.
That music is hip-hop.
It began as a way for young people to escape the sad reality and violence that was the ‘burning Bronx’ of the 1970s.
Nobody can attest to that more than some of hip hop’s founding fathers.
“If it wasn’t for the music I’d probably be in jail,” said Grandmaster Melle Mel, member of the Furious Five and native to the south Bronx. “I had friends that might have been out robbing, stealing, or getting high, but we focused on music and it saved us,” he added.
“This is where it was born, here in the Bronx,” said Grandmaster Caz, great friend to Melle Mel and fellow hip hop pioneer. “Hip hop didn’t invent anything, it reinvented everything, it’s our reinterpretation of poetic energy,” he added.
Caz, who also hails from the south Bronx is best known as a member of the Cold Crush Brothers.
44 years later, classic hip hop of the 70s and 80s is now being appreciated from historical and cultural perspective rather than just as music.
It’s something that both Mel and Caz are deeply involved in.
The duo works with Windows of Hip Hop, a non profit, Bronx based economic development project that promotes the educational, communal, and historical perspective of Hip Hop.
“Our aim and what we try to accomplish is going into communities, encourage youth to use hip hop as a learning tool, which the biggest vehicle on the planet for everything right now,” said Caz. “We want to establish a place for people to celebrate and preserve the culture,” he added.
What better way to celebrate and preserve a culture than developing a Bronx Hip Hop Hall of Fame.
The project was announced in earlier this year and will bring the hall and ‘Tower of Hip Hop’ to Port Morris.
“The Bronx is about to change and we want to be a part of that change,” said Mel.
Part of that change is showing the world of what once was.
Caz and Mel do so by guiding a bus tour through their old stomping grounds in the south Bronx.
The two also work with Hush Tours, the only company to put on a guided bus tour of hip hop’s famed places, Caz will be leading a new Bronx exclusive tour this upcoming spring.
Both Mel and Caz already work other Hush Tours that highlight hip hop spots all over NYC, including the Bronx.
“We’ll be able to highlight more places and more people within the Bronx,” said Caz.
Windows of Hip Hop, Caz, and Mel are also working with the Bronx Zoo for a unique event that will celebrate the culture of hip hop and the Bronx.
“Being that we’re from the Bronx and are classic hip hop artists what we’re doing with the Bronx Zoo is a perfect match,” said Mel. “It’s all Bronx related,” he added.