Sunday, June 23, 2024

Senator Schumer and KRS-One honor the birthplace of hip-hop for its 50th anniversary

U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and rapper KRS-One are reflecting on their efforts to preserve the birthplace of hip-hop as the art form celebrates its 50th anniversary.

“Hip-hop culture has transcended language, race, and age,” the Senate majority leader said in an exclusive statement obtained by theGrio, “in addition to geographic and socioeconomic barriers.”

Left to right: U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and rapper KRS-One. (Photo: Getty Images)

The Brooklyn native said, “It is a uniquely American art form that has become a global cultural movement.”

“As a proud New Yorker, I was honored to be able to work with hip-hop giants and advocates like KRS-One and DJ Kool Herc, to ensure the birthplace, 1520 Sedgwick Ave, was preserved and celebrated,” said Schumer.

In an exclusive statement obtained by theGrio, KRS-One reflected on hip-hop’s origin at a community room at 1520 Sedgwick. 

“Its message and themes have traveled all over the world, connecting hundreds of millions of people,” said the Boogie Down Productions member.

On Aug. 11, 1973, Clive Campbell, known as DJ Kool Herc, and his sister Cindy Campbell hosted the iconic “Back to School Jam” at the community room, as reported by Complex.

The event ignited a movement that gave DJs, emcees and hip-hop artists the space to showcase their talents.  

This year, KRS-One launched an initiative to host several community events leading up to the 50th anniversary of the “Back to School Jam” to aim a spotlight on a part of hip-hop’s storied history.

Reflecting on the Bronx apartment building where the cultural genre got its start, the hip-hop legend said, “Internationally, cultural phenoms birthplaces are regularly preserved and celebrated.”

He acknowledged that when it comes to Black culture and history in the United States, much of it “has not been as well preserved, often due to lack of recognition or money – often both.”

WANTAGH, NY – JULY 19: Rapper KRS-One performs during the 2009 Rock the Bells concert at the Nikon at Jones Beach Theater on July 19, 2009 in Wantagh, New York. (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images)

KRS-One said Senator Schumer “understood the importance of hip-hop and its rightful place in our national culture when he extended max effort to make sure this building wasn’t lost.”

In 2021, Schumer and U.S. Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., presented a congressional resolution that declared 1520 Sedgwick the birthplace of hip-hop. The resolution also deemed Aug. 11 as “Hip-Hop Celebration Day,” the entire month of August as “Hip-Hop Recognition Month,” and November as “Hip-Hop History Month.”

In May, Bowman also re-introduced the Restoring Artistic Protection Act, also known as the Rap Act, with Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., to prevent prosecutors from unlawfully using rap lyrics against artists to convict them of a crime.  

Bowman told theGrio that hip-hop is “essential to preserve and to celebrate” and “[it] needs its own Hall of Fame and Library of Congress.” 

The congressman, whose district covers most of North Bronx, said hip-hop culture raised and inspired him as a young Black man living in New York City.

“It gave me knowledge of self. It taught me politics and so much of what my work in Congress now is rooted in,” said Bowman. 

KRS-One said he is thankful that Schumer, Bowman and other congressional members stepped up to help preserve hip-hop and its birthplace. 

UNITED STATES – APRIL 27: Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., speaks during a news conference outside the U.S. Capitol on the reintroduction of the Restoring Artistic Protection (RAP) Act, on Thursday, April 27, 2023. The legislation aims to “protect artists from the use of their lyrics against them as legal evidence in criminal and civil cases.”(Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

“The Community Room is now protected for future generations to appreciate. Many think of the room as a ‘sacred space,’” he said. “Just the act of preserving the room serves as a reminder to all that they also have the ability to achieve their full potential.”

On Aug. 11, KRS-One will lead a live celebration to honor the birthplace of hip-hop. He said the live feed will feature performances from a “wide range” of artists who have “developed and moved the culture forward” over the past 50 years. Those will include dancers, painters, DJs, poets and rappers.

“It’s the birthday hip-hop deserves,” he said, “Its spirit is larger and stronger now than ever before. 

The rapper added, “We look forward to sharing it will all of you in just a few weeks.”

TheGrio is FREE on your TV via Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Roku, and Android TV. Please download theGrio mobile apps today! 


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