BY GRANT LANCASTER
Three kids from the Bronx and nearby Paterson, New Jersey had the unique opportunity to share their raps and talk shop with a hip hop icon famous for his involvement with Run DMC.
These three are part of Madison Square Garden’s nonprofit Garden of Dreams foundation, which organizes an annual talent show at Radio City Music Hall for more than 100 children facing obstacles from poverty, illness or homelessness.
This year’s talent show was postponed due to the COVID-19 viral outbreak, but the foundation gave three of these kids the chance to share their rapping talent through a video rehearsal with Darryl McDaniels of Run-DMC, a pioneering hip hop group from Hollis, Queens.
Leryana Lopez, 11, of Paterson, Michael Espada, 19, and Denzel Rodriguez,18, both from the Bronx, performed their original pieces for McDaniels, who gave feedback and mentored the three artists on their performances.
The three have all faced difficult circumstances that are reflected in their work.
Lopez’s rap “No Bully Zone” is inspired by her experiences with bullying and her hope that her younger brother, who was born with spinal muscular atrophy and has had brain injuries that limit his ability to walk and talk, will not be bullied.
Espada has had multiple hospital visits recently after an unsuccessful kidney transplant, but finds peace in songwriting, which allows him to express himself and share his feelings.
Rodriguez is the son of immigrants who often struggled to find work and grew up in a neighborhood where gun violence in the streets is common, leading to his father and uncle being shot. His rap, “Divinity,” is framed as a conversation with God where Rodriguez looks for hope and asks for help being strong.
Check out the footage from the rehearsal below: