Ground was broken today on the first-ever museum dedicated to hip hop, which will be built where it all began — The Bronx. On hand were some of the most famous names in New York rap, including Grandmaster Flash, Slick Rick, Chuck D, Nas, LL Cool J, Chuck Chillout, Fat Joe, and more. (Also: Mayor Bill de Blasio.) Officially called the Universal Museum of Hip Hop, Gothamist reports that the $80 million, 52,000-square-foot museum is being financed through city, state, and private money. It’s located at 50 East 150th Street, two miles from 1520 Sedgwick Avenue, which is regarded as the birthplace of hip hop and whose block was renamed Hip Hop Boulevard in 2016.
“It’s a long journey, but a very worthwhile journey to see what should have happened already is finally happening,” said executive director Rocky Bucano, who has been trying to make the museum a reality for a decade. “The museum represents the creativity and the free expression that came out of this community and now has become the most powerful art form in the entire world.”
“There was a time no one gave a fuck about the Bronx. Nobody cared,” Grandmaster Flash said at the ceremony. “Here we are, almost 48 years later.”
Councilmember Kevin C. Riley wrote on Instagram, “Today we Broke Ground on the First of its kind, Hip Hop Museum. Rappers from all generations and from all boroughs pulled up today in support of the Universal Hip Hop Museum. For a young black boy from The Bronx, Hip Hop played a pivotal role in my life. Times when I didn’t know how to express myself I would listen to lyricist @nas or @daveeast.”
The museum will celebrate the five pillars of hip hop — DJing, breakdance, graffiti art, knowledge, and MCing — and will be housed inside $349 million affordable housing development project that’s being built on a disused portion of city property.
The Universal Museum of Hip Hop had originally hoped to open by 2023 but because of pandemic-related setbacks, it’s now hoping for a 2024 ribbon-cutting ceremony. You can check out the artist rendering for the museum, and a few Instagrams from the ground-breaking ceremony, below.