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DJ Kool Herc's Section of Sedgwick Avenue to be Dubbed 'Hip-Hop Boulevard'

By Eddie Small | February 4, 2016 3:05pm
 The City Council should pass legislation on Feb. 5 that co-names a portion of Sedgwick Avenue as Hip-Hop Boulevard.
The City Council should pass legislation on Feb. 5 that co-names a portion of Sedgwick Avenue as Hip-Hop Boulevard.
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DNAinfo/Eddie Small

MORRIS HEIGHTS — The City Council plans to affirm the legacy of The Bronx as the birthplace of hip-hop on Feb. 5 by passing legislation that would co-name a portion of Sedgwick Avenue as "Hip-Hop Boulevard," according to Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson's office.

Although the exact site of hip-hop's birth is up for debate, a commonly accepted spot is 1520 Sedgwick Ave., where DJ Kool Herc and his sister hosted what his website refers to as the "first hip-hop party" on Aug. 11, 1973.

Gibson, who represents the district that includes 1520 Sedgwick Ave., said that the co-naming is meant to honor both DJ Kool Herc and the overall contributions that The Bronx has made to creating hip-hop over the years.

“I’m thankful that it has evolved to a genre of music that has gained so much attention and popularity,” she said. “We have a lot of Bronx natives who are trailblazers.”

Although New Yorkers suggested several possible locations for Hip-Hop Boulevard when DNAinfo asked them about two years ago — including Van Duzer Street in honor of the Wu-Tang Clan and Linden Boulevard in honor of A Tribe Called Quest — Gibson said she did not receive any grief over trying to officially bestow the honor on the portion of Sedgwick Avenue near the site of DJ Kool Herc's famous party.

“In terms of affirming that The Bronx was the birthplace of hip-hop, no, I don’t think we got any pushback from that,” she said.

Going forward, Gibson hopes to further cement the borough's contributions to the wildly popular music genre with a hip-hop museum and anticipates selecting a design and location for the institution soon.

"Nothing is solidified just yet, but it is a very real idea," she said, "and soon there will be an actual plan that we can embrace and support."

DJ Jazzy Jay, a hip-hop pioneer who was one of the first artists to record with Def Jam Records and has worked with musicians like LL Cool J and The Beastie Boys, described Sedgwick Avenue as an ideal place to be co-named Hip-Hop Boulevard, stressing that the music genre would not exist without DJ Kool Herc.

"He is the reason why we do hip-hop in general and the official reason why hip-hop was born," he said, "so it’s only fitting that it should be right there."

Reph, a member of the New York hip-hop duo Circa '95, said he was grateful to see the genre getting more respect.

"I always think it’s great when hip-hop is recognized," he said. "It’s one of the great American art forms."

Although the City Council has been dealing with several controversial issues lately, including Mayor Bill de Blasio's proposed horse carriage deal and a pay raise for members, Gibson was not worried about any controversy spilling over into Hip-Hop Boulevard.

"The street co-naming always passes," she said.