BY LA QUINTA CLARK
Mayor Bill de Blasio placed hip hop back on the streets of New York on Thursday, signing a bill that will co-name Sedgwick Ave in the Bronx “Hip Hop Boulevard”.
The announcement comes almost 45 years after the music genre’s origination and literally puts it on the map. De Blasio started the ceremony by calling the new name, “a personal favorite of mine,” to a packed house at 31 Chambers Street.
The crowd cheered as advocates and city officials spoke about the importance of solidifying a place for Hip Hop in the area where it all began. It was a special and timely event for the people of the Bronx as they also celebrated others who had dedicated so much of their lives to the community.
“Hip hop has contributed so much to our culture and diversity, and to the fabric of this great city,” said Bronx Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson, “We are no longer defined by statistics but by our success stories and using Hip Hop as a catalyst and movement for social change is our way and opportunity and access.”
Bronx natives and siblings, Clive “DJ Kool Herc” Campbell and Cindy Campbell, started the movement by hosting the first parties at the community center, in the 1970s, at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue. Gibson, born and raised in the Bronx, credits it as the official birthplace of the style, while citing DJ Kool Herc as the founding father and Cindy Campbell, “the first lady of hip hop.”
“We can give the kids something to do and look forward to, it was a we thing,” said DJ Kool Herc. The founding father, in true fashion, proceeded to drape beads around the necks of Mayor de Blasio and Councilwoman Gibson as a token of appreciation.
“It has had an undeniable influence on popular culture and has cultivated a movement of so many young entrepreneurs and musicians,” added Gibson.
“We love that hip hop is worldwide and strong and that it will probably keep going and going,” said Campbell.
“It all started here” said de Blasio, sparking a friendly inter-borough dispute.
“Brooklyn raised it,” insisted Brooklyn City Councilman Jumaane Williams.
“Queens runs it, ask Russell Simmons,”chimed in Queens Councilman Donavan Richards, prompting more cheers and laughter from the crowd.
But Gibson had the last word: “Through the street co-naming Hip Hop Boulevard we are beginning a process in which we can recognize hip hop as our own hip hop museum right in the Bronx,” she said.