New York delegation announces $5M for Universal Hip Hop Museum

A coffee table in the Dapper Dan Lounge portion of the Universal Hip Hop Museum’s in June 2022.
A coffee table in the Dapper Dan Lounge portion of the Universal Hip Hop Museum’s in June 2022.
Photo ET Rodriguez

Ahead of the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and U.S. Rep. Jamaal Bowman joined together on Jan. 29 at the construction site of the Universal Hip Hop Museum in the Bronx to announce $5 million in federal funding to help preserve and celebrate hip hop music’s history and influence over American culture.

The Universal Hip Hop Museum will become a tourist hub honoring the music genre’s influence over art, music, fashion, film, marketing and entertainment, and celebrating the pioneers who built the culture, such as Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, DJ Red Alert, Run DMC and KRS-One.

The funds attained by Gillibrand, Schumer, and Bowman will go toward the construction of the facility, as well as K-12 educational programming.

The lawmakers were also joined by state Sens. José Serrano and Jamaal Bailey, Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson, former Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., Andre Rainey, a hip-hop artist and the former mayor of Peekskill Mayor, KRS-One, G. Simone, Roxanne Shanté, Grandmaster Flash, Eric B. and Grand WizzardTheodore.

“The Bronx has historically been a creative incubator, nurturing so many genres of music ranging from doo-wop to salsa, but few genres have left a greater mark than hip hop music,” said Gillibrand. “It is amazing to see that what started as a party in the basement of 1520 Sedgwick Avenue became a global phenomenon that spawned artists and entrepreneurs like Jay-Z, Queen Latifah, Pitbull, and 50 Cent. With the 50th anniversary of hip hop right around the corner, I am proud to have secured funds to help the Universal Hip Hop Museum celebrate everything that is beautiful about hip hop culture.”

Schumer said the funding will allow visitors from around the world to learn more about hip hop culture.

In 2021, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., Mayor Bill de Blasio, Nas, LL Cool J and Fat Joe, among others break ground on the Universal Hip Hop Museum.File photo/Steven Goodstein

“Since its birth in the Bronx 50 years ago, Hip Hop culture has transcended language, race, age, in addition to geographic and socioeconomic barriers,” he said. “It is a uniquely American art form that has become a global cultural movement.”

Bowman, one of the champions of the museum, said the art form “transcends beyond our borders.”

“For people who were disconnected from their continent, from their language, from their culture, and from their ancestry, Hip Hop represents the rebirth of a civilization,” Bowman said. “The pioneers of Hip Hop created a vessel that grew to impact nearly every facet of American culture and this funding is only the start of prioritizing and honoring those in our country who have paved the way for many generations to come.”

Bailey said the initiative is important to him personally.

“As a Bronx kid raised by hip hop, it’s an incredible moment to see hip hop’s global impact celebrated in this way. You can’t write the history of hip hop without The Bronx – the borough that gave birth to hip hop, cultivated its evolution, and inspired artists and lovers of hip hop across the world,” he said. “Hip hop changed the culture, and now its impact will be celebrated with the world and countless future generations.”

Anchored in the borough that gave birth to the musical genre, the Universal Hip Hop Museum is the only state-chartered educational museum that is focused on preserving the genre’s deep musical history and celebrating the five elements of hip-hop’s culture: emceeing, DJing, breakdancing, graffiti art and knowledge. The Universal Hip Hop Museum, which broke ground in the South Bronx in May 2021, is slated to open in 2024.

The funds attained for the Universal Hip Hop Museum were part of the final omnibus funding package for Fiscal Year 2023. Gillibrand, Schumer and Bronx representatives secured a total of $18.2 million for projects across the borough, including educational programs at Hostos Community College of CUNY, improvements to health care access and facilities at Montefiore Medical Center and NYC Health + Hospitals – Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center, and building construction at cultural centers like the New York Botanical Garden.

For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes