Our Story

The Birthplace of

Hip-Hop

The 1520 Community Center is not only an official Historical Landmark, but as far as the Hip Hop community is concerned, the 1520 Community Center space is also “sacred-ground”. The 1520 Community Center, located at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx (New York), has been long revered and known for decades as the official “Birthplace of Hip Hop”. As the story goes, Kool DJ Herc, at the request of his sister Cindy Campbell who wanted to give a “Back-To-School” party (“jam”) at the 1520 Community Center in the Bronx on August 11th 1973, begins his unique style of “deejayin” called “The Merry-Go-Round” at this party. It was there, at the 1520 Community Center in 1973, that Kool DJ Herc first began to perfect his “Merry-Go-Round” DJ technique which would focus upon the musical “breaks” of songs by James Brown among others, like Apache by The Incredible Bongo Band. It was at those early Kool Herc parties that the once independent talents of b-boys and b-girls, graffiti writers, emcees and DJs would begin to come together forming (over a 50-year period) the most influential urban culture in the world today—Hip Hop! 

Join us online from August 11th 2023 onward as we honor and celebrate Hip Hop’s 50th Anniversary with private showings of a mind-blowing 1520 Community Center “exhibit” explaining the history and significance of the 1520 Community Center and its lasting impact on Hip Hop itself.

Please note, our August 11 event will be an online event. Log onto birthplaceofhiphop.nyc and join us steaming live 7 PM to 11 PM (est)

August 12, is our Hip Hop 50 Year Block Festival 3 PM to 9 PM (est)

Celebrating

50 Years

of Hiphop

Yes, 1973 to 2023 marks 50 years of Hip Hop in the world! But Hip Hop’s musical history is not necessarily Hip Hop’s “cultural” history. Many people contributed to Hip Hop’s music, art and dance history, but Hip Hop as “culture” has only a few architects.

1600 SEDGWICK AVENUE IN THE BRONX (1973)

Hip Hop as “culture” begins in the minds of a certain group of young people living in the Bronx determined to be seen and heard in a society that ignored their voices and disregarded their very existences. Living in perpetual poverty caused by the corrupt leadership at the time, these young people of the Bronx sought not to change the environment that they were living in, they sought first to change themselves!

“WE BECAME THE SOLUTIONS THAT WE WERE LOOKING FOR”

Yes, the housing was horrible! Yes, the garbage was everywhere! Sickness, hatred, ignorance and poverty constantly surrounded the young people of the Bronx during the 1970s. But instead of dwelling upon this hopeless situation, we became the solutions that we were looking for. We became the answers that we needed to escape the sickness, the hatred, the ignorance and the poverty that we were all facing at the time. The answers were not given to us; we became the answers themselves!

When They Denied Us A Voice, We Became EMCEES!

Remember, no one gave us the answers, or the solutions, to the socio-political challenges we faced in the Bronx in the early 1970s. We simply had to become our own answers and our own solutions. When they denied us voice, we became emcees! When they ignored our art, we put it on the side of subway trains! Sometimes the challenges that we face are only there to show us exactly who we are.

The Core Four Elements

Breakin—Break-dancing

Emceein—Rap

Graffiti Art—Aerosol art

Deejayin—Cutting, mixing and scratching recorded materials.

HIP HOP as Culture

  • Breakin—Break-dancing; “goin’ off”.
  • Emceein—Rap and “rappin”.
  • Graffiti Art—Aerosol art, “piecin”, “burnin”, “taggin” and “writin”.
  • Deejayin—”Cuttin”, “mixin” and “scratchin” recorded materials.
  • Beat Boxin—Body music and body language.
  • Street Fashion—Urban trends and cultural styles.
  • Street Language—The coded dialect of urban areas.
  • Street Knowledge—Urban wisdom, spirituality and useful neighborhood information.
  • Street Entrepreneurialism—Urban trade and business creativity. “Hustlin”.

What Does “HIP” And “HOP” Mean?

“HIP” =

Being aware; Awareness, Consciousness, Intelligence.

“HOP” =

Springing-Up; Leaping Forward, Jumping Up, movement.

Together Hip as awareness and Hop as leaping forward can only define the term Hip Hop as literally consciousness spiring-up, or intelligence moving! What more are we than conscious beings on the move? This is Hip Hop.