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Monday, July 23, 2007

Officially, The Birth Place of Hip Hop

Despite a steady downpour this morning, Congressman Jose Serrano, Senator Chuck Schumer, local residents and a handful of Bronx hip-hop legends showed up in the West Bronx to celebrate New York State's formal recognition of 1520 Sedgwick Ave. as the official birth place of hip hop.

The celebration was also an opportunity for the lawmakers to urge that 1520 Sedgwick remain affordable housing and to push for more affordable housing citywide. In February, the owners of the Birth Place of Hip Hop announced their intention to convert the property into market-rate housing. The 100-unit building is currently part of the city's Mitchell-Lama program, which keeps rents affordable, but is being phased out by owners throughout the five boroughs. Here's the Times' David Gonzalez's piece for some more background and depth.

Housing advocates say some 39,000 units may lose their Mitchell-Lama designation soon, forcing out many long-time tenants, unless Mayor Bloomberg puts a moratorium on buy-outs of all city-funded Mitchell-Lama buildings until a suitable preservation strategy can be created and implemented.

In the basement of 1520 Sedgwick, the hip hop music genre was born under the guidance and creaivity of DJ Kool Herc (aka Clive Campbell) in the 1970s. Herc and his sister, Cindy, threw parties in that basement featuring the first forms of hip hop music and dance. Since then, the Bronx has spawned hip hop icons such as Afrikaa Bambataa, Grandmaster Flash and KRS-One, to name just a few, and the genre has exploded across the globe.


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