It ain’t called the boogie down Bronx for nothing. Hip hop’s birthplace celebrated some of its most legendary icons at the 2019 Element of Hip Hop awards at Port Morris’ Pier 132 on Tuesday, January 29.
Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. joined famed Bronx rapper and hip hop artist Grandmaster Caz along with the Windows of Hip Hop team to honor a few borough bred figures that played influential roles in the genre.
Although he leaned away from attending the awards, Fat Joe was given the nod he very well deserved for his contributions to the Bronx.
Lately, the rapper’s most notable philanthropic gesture for the borough is his school sneaker initiative that he laced up with Diaz; incentivizing entire classes of middle schoolers to earn better grades in exchange for a fresh pair of kicks.
“Joe is the one who calls me,” Diaz said, praising the rapper’s drive to help better the borough that his career was so often influenced by.
Also honored was Super Bowl champion and offensive lineman Willie Colon, who grew up in the Melrose Houses, played for Cardinal Hayes High School before he went on to have a stint with the New York Jets and winning his big ring with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
More than protecting Ben Rothlesberger (and attempting to protect Mark Sanchez) Colon came off the bench when Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico.
“Willie and I met doing relief efforts for Puerto Rico actually,” said Alfredo Angueria, owner of the hip hop speakeasy-bar and restaurant Beatstro.
“He would show up in a truck filled with supplies and say, “here just take it,”” Angueria said on stage next to a towering Colon.
Honored and humbled, the NFL great took to the microphone saying, “I’m coming home,” touched by how the Bronx remembered one of its own.
If that wasn’t emotionally endowing enough, famed hip-hop radio mogul Angie Martinez and production legend Sean ‘Pecas’ Costner were literally brought to tears when talking about their careers and lives together while being honored by the borough president.
After having his massive mural of the first unanimous Hall of Fame inductee Mariano Rivera honored by the Bronx and Dr. Cary Goodman’s 161st Street Business Improvement District, it’s no surprise that Kingsbridge artist Andre Trenier was also a unanimous choice for his own recognition.
He’s best known not just for his mural of The Sandman, but many Yankee greats all around the hallowed grounds of 1 E 161st Street in addition to many other projects like Boogie Down at the Bronx Zoo, which Caz and Windows of Hip Hop also partnered in.
At the ceremony Grandmaster Caz announced he will be building a recording studio in Claremont’s P.S. 55 elementary school for students to learn the value of music production.
Keep an eye out for Caz and his partner in crime (Bronx philanthropy) Grandmaster Melle Mel at this year’s Grammy Awards.