BY ALICIA POWELL
Hip hop – the music, dance, art and fashion phenomenon that went from rough streets into fancy suites in five decades – is getting its own museum in its birthplace in the Bronx, New York.
A small pop-up exhibit gives a preview of the Universal Hip Hop Museum’s permanent home, set to open in 2023 to celebrate the culture’s global history.
To date, “there isn’t a physical place that is dedicated to the preservation and celebration of hip hop history and culture,” the museum’s Executive Director Rocky Bucano said in an interview.
The museum, dreamed up by rappers Kurtis Blow, Afrika Bambaataa and Grandmaster Melly Mel eight years ago, will seek to ensure that “the stories can be told accurately by the people who created the history themselves,” Bucano added.
Other rapper-producer-entrepreneurs have since become partners in the project, including Nas, Ice-T and LL Cool J.
Hip hop was born in the south section of the New York City borough of the Bronx in the United States in the late 1970s. The dancing, rapping and deejaying elements of hip-hop grew out of the depressed inner-city environment but it has since evolved into a multi-billion dollar part of mainstream global culture.
The initial exhibit tells the early origins of hip hop history, and will be replaced every six months with the next stage of the culture’s development. When the museum is complete, the 60,000-square-foot (5,570 square meter) space will feature interactive and immersive exhibits, live shows, film screenings and seminars.
One highlight will be a ‘breakbeat narratives’ interactive console created with Microsoft and the MIT Center for Advanced Virtuality. It takes visitors on a hip hop history based on their responses to different characters in a game.
“It forms a custom narrative of hip hop history based on their musical preferences,” Bucano said.
Artifacts on display will include Kurtis Blow’s original beat box machine, and the first and second rap records ever released.
Construction is set to start in July, with the grand opening planned to mark 50 years of hip hop in 2023.