Hip Hop legends lobby for Mercado Mirabo at Kingsbridge Armory

They’re hoping the Bronx borough president hears their rap.

A contigent of hip hop legends, led by Grandmaster Melle Mel and Afrika Bambaataa, met with Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. last week to push for a Hip Hop Museum for the Kingsbridge Armory as part of a proposal for a recreational/retail/entertainment complex there.

While the BP is a fond lover of the genre since his early years, he’s a big fan of the Kingsbridge National Ice Center proposal featuring nine skating rinks and a 5,000-seat arena for large-scale events.

Sealing Diaz’s endorsement is KNIC’s promise of a “living wage” of $10 an hour.

“Ruben Diaz is our brother,” assured Mel. “But we agreed to disagree what we thought was the best thing for the Kingsbridge Armory.”

The best thing, according to Mel and Bambaataa, is Mercado Mirabo, featuring a 4D movie theater, sports fields, a rock climbing wall, and a “town square” plaza where area merchants can set up tiny shops.

“Both plans work,” said Mel. “But our plan works better long term.”

Mel argued the rink is geared more towards Bronx outsiders. He doubts KNIC visitors will explore places like the Fordham Road shopping area.

“No one going to the ice rink is going to get a cuchifrito,” he quipped.

Mel and Bambaataa, artists with tight roots to the Boogie Down, recently penned a commitment with Mercado Mirabo developer Youngwoo & Associates in creating the first-ever hip hop museum within the borough’s birthplace.

Bambaatta, the artist behind the 30-year classic “Planet Rock”, yearns for a hip hop museum in the armory, given its musical history.

“No one’s been there since 1971 when Ike and Tina Turner played there,” said Bambaataa.

The New York Economic Development Corporation is reviewing both proposals. A decision is expected by the end of the year.

For now, Mel and Bambaataa will take their message to other key players, including local Councilman Fernando Cabrera.

The pair will join fellow “Hip Hop Federation” members Mick Benson, Mama Dukes, Cutman LG, The Grand Wizzard, and Shakim.

But whatever project wins, Mel simply wants neighbors to have a say in the process.

“If you’re going to put anything in the armory it should benefit the community.”

Reach reporter David Cruz at 718-742-3383 or dcruz@cnglocal.com.

David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at DCruz@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3383

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