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Bronx honors hip hop history with street co-naming

Bronx Times
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An historic moment in the borough’s contribution to urban music will soon be recognized.

The NYC City Council recently approved the street co-naming of a portion of Sedgwick Avenue as Hip Hop Boulevard, permanently establishing its role as the birthplace of hip hop.

The co-naming would cover the stretch of Sedgwick Avenue, which runs parallel, north and south, to the Major Deegan Expressway and the Harlem River, from Depot Place to 1520 Sedgwick Avenue, an apartment building that is considered the birthplace of hip hop, located less than a mile away from the River Park Towers.

The Sedgwick Avenue high rise was dubbed the birthplace of hip hop after resident Clive Campbell, later known as DJ Kool Herc, held a house concert and a back-to-school party in the building’s recreation center for his sister, Cindy, on August 11, 1973.

The ceremony will include a sign reading ‘Hip Hop Boulevard’ being placed in front of 1520 Sedgwick Avenue, making passersby aware of the building’s significance.

Hip Hop Boulevard has been strongly pushed by local historian Jacob Morris of the Harlem Historical Society, who met with Community Board 5 on multiple occassions to discuss the proposed co-naming. DJ Kool Herc, Cindy Campbell and several residents of 1520 Sedgwick Avenue have also spearheaded the initiative.

The Hip Hop Boulevard designation has also received support from Windows of Hip Hop, a non-profit, Bronx-based economic development project which promotes the educational and historical perspective of hip hop.

Other hip hop pioneers from the area, including Grandmaster Caz, Melle Mel and DJ Grand Wizard Theodore, as well as members from the hip hop awareness group Zulu Nation, are also supporting the renaming.

“This is a great way to acknowledge the Bronx as the birthplace of hip hop and highlight the building where the genre is believed to have originated,” said Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson, referring to 1520 Sedgwick Avenue. “The Bronx is resurgent and resilient - and this showed in the hip hop music that was being created during that time.”

“It is important that we recognize the borough, hip hop and its pioneers - and what better way to spread awareness on this history by renaming this stretch of Sedgwick Avenue in honor of this movement,” she added.

According to Councilwoman Gibson, Mayor de Blasio is expected to hold a public hearing on Thursday, February 25 in the Blue Room of City Hall, where he will officially sign the street co-naming legislation.

“There is no Drake, there is no Kanye, there is no Kendrick Lamar without the hard work of those on Sedwick Avenue in the 1970s. Hip hop was born in the Bronx, on Sedgwick Avenue, and the street being recognized as ‘Hip Hop Boulevard’ is a great way to honor the genre’s pioneers,” Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. said.

Reach Reporter Steven Goodstein at (718) 260-4599. E-mail him at sgoodstein@cnglocal.com.
Updated 4:40 pm, April 7, 2016
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