Lehman Center’s Hip Hop Fever concert on Saturday is love letter to the genre made famous in the Bronx

Hip-hop’s foundational roots in the South Bronx have long been documented. In the lead up to the 50th anniversary, KRS-One and others in the hip-hop community, will lead a series of community-based programs to showcase the history and movements associated with the genre.
Photo courtesy Gotham Center

Pioneers of hip-hop and the Boogie Down Bronx’s finest at spitting bars are bringing the sounds the borough made famous to the Lehman Center for the Performing Arts this Saturday night, in a concert not only dedicated to the genre, but also to former Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., who is hailed for his contributions to NYC’s preeminent hip-hop community.

The foundation of hip-hop was formed in the 1970s South Bronx, an area defined by the fires that incinerated its neighborhoods brick-by-brick, as Bronx DJ’s invented sampling, the isolating of one sound and reusing it in another song, and hip-hop’s other key elements through trial and error.

Saturday’s 8 p.m. concert, titled Hip Hop Fever 2022, will include more than a dozen acts such as Melle Mel & Scorpio of The Furious Five, and their iconic hit “The Message,” which included the use of concurrent turntables and repetition that were innovated by DJing pioneer Grandmaster Flash in the Bronx. Other performing acts include Slick Rick, Sugar Hill Gang, Grandmaster Caz, Rob Base to name a few.

Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., Mayor Bill de Blasio, Nas, LL Cool J, Fat Joe, among others, officially break ground on the Universal Hip Hop Museum in 2021. File photo

It was Clive Campbell aka DJ Kool Herc, on Aug. 11, 1973, who changed music and the Bronx’s association with hip-hop, forever.

At a “back to school event” at the now-iconic 1520 Sedgwick Ave. apartment building where, through the use of a sound system, Herc began to invent the technique of breaks, or breakbeats, which led to it being popularized by other artists like Afrika Bambaataa and Bronx crew Universal Zulu Nation and Grand Wizzard Theodore, who will perform on Saturday night.

The concert’s honoree, Diaz Jr., a Bronx native who now serves as senior vice president at Montefiore Medical Center, is largely credited for the $4.2 million investment necessary to make the Universal Hip-Hop Museum a reality. The museum, which was recently awarded $11 million from the state for its final construction, is scheduled to open in 2024. The two-floor museum will be located on East 150th Street, attached to the Bronx Point development.

“The Universal Hip Hop Museum focuses on the cultural phenomenon that started right here in the Bronx at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue and celebrates a powerful musical genre that expanded the boundaries of contemporary style and touched the psyche of millions of listeners,” Bronx Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner said. “The $11 million state grant is a major investment in the Bronx that will support the construction of the Museum as we celebrate the rich diversity of our community.”

Diaz is also an alum of Lehman College.

1520 Sedgwick Ave. in the Bronx is known as the birthplace of hip-hop. Photo courtesy Getty Images

One of the reasons hip-hop permeated in the Bronx was the exposure given to emerging local artists at Disco Fever, a now-closed South Bronx dance club on Jerome Avenue and 167th street, where many rap and hip-hop stars and producers like Russell Simmons, Run-D.M.C., DJ Junebug, Sugarhill Gang, DJ Hollywood and Kurtis Blow started their careers. The bar-turned-club was operated by nightclub owner Allie Abbatiello, and his son Sal Abbatiello, who bartended and managed the club. Sal Abbatiello has gone on to make his own name in hip-hop via executive and production work in the music business.

A recent Bronx Walk of Fame Honoree, Sal Abbatiello is credited for the the framework of the Hip Hop Fever 2022 concert, according to a Lehman College spokesperson.

Proof of vaccination is required to attend Saturday’s event, a Lehman Center spokesperson also told the Bronx Times.

Tickets for the concert range between $45-$65, and are on sale now online at https://www.lehmancenter.org/hip-hop-fever or over the phone during Lehman Center business hours (10 a.m.-5 p.m. on weekdays) at (718) 960-8833. 

Lehman Center for the Performing Arts is located on the campus of CUNY Lehman College at 250 Bedford Park Boulevard West. The Concert Hall is accessible by transit on the 4 and D train to Bedford Park Blvd. and by car on the Saw Mill River Parkway and Major Deegan Expressway.

Reach Robbie Sequeira at rsequeira@schnepsmedia.com or (718) 260-4599. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes