New York City was popping over the weekend with #HipHop50 concerts and parties celebrating the NYC-spawned art form that began at DIY parties in housing projects and has grown into the most popular genre of music in America.
While Friday (Aug. 11) night’s Yankee Stadium concert featuring A-listers and neglected genre pioneers understandably got the most shine, ITSALLBLACKMUSIC’s 5X5 Block Party series ensured that each borough’s role in hip-hop’s evolution was honored, too. On Saturday (Aug. 12) at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx, luminaries from Public Enemy to KRS-One to Talib Kweli made damn sure the birthplace of hip-hop was rocking for the genre’s 50th anniversary.
Chuck D was listed on flyers as one of the Bronx concert’s headliners, but with Flavor Flav joining him on stage, Public Enemy was in full effect outside the residential building that hosted a storied breakbeat-heavy set in a rec room by DJ Kool Herc on Aug. 11, 1973. (That party, put on by Herc and his sister Cindy Campbell, is one of many key events in the genre’s genesis, but for purposes of the global #HipHop50 celebrations, their party at 1520 Sedgwick is the reason Aug. 11 is celebrated as birthday of hip-hop.)
Unapologetic as always, Chuck D said Public Enemy was offered a spot at the all-star Yankee Stadium concert but turned it down when KRS-One asked the group to make sure the Bronx birthplace got its dues on the anniversary. “F—k Yankee Stadium,” Chuck D concluded.
In between classic cuts like “Rebel Without a Pause,” “911 Is a Joke” and “Fight the Power” (which still pack a wallop thanks to Chuck and Flav’s runaway-train energy), Chuck D demonstrated to the audience — a cross-generational swath of current residents, former locals trading tales of the not-necessarily-so-good-old-days and younger fans who needed Google Maps just to find the spot — that PE remains as politically outspoken as ever.
Chuck asked people to take out their phones, then reminded everyone that phones can be used to track your location and store data about you. He also shouted out imprisoned hip-hop pioneer Kidd Creole of Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five (not to be confused with the lead singer of Kid Creole and the Coconuts, another Bronx legend) and claimed the retired rapper, whose real name is Nathaniel Glover, was “railroaded” by the system.
“Free Kidd Creole,” Chuck said, adding that “someone needs to talk to [NYC Mayor] Eric Adams” about the situation.
In April 2022, Glover was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to 16 years in prison for stabbing a homeless man, who later died in a hospital, in 2017. Glover’s attorney argued the stabbing was in self-defense, alleging Glover felt threatened after the man approached him around midnight in midtown Manhattan.
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