New York City is the undisputed birthplace of hip hop.

The scene has changed over the past few decades, however, there are still spaces around the city where the origins of hip hop can be felt and experienced — if you know where to look. Here is a list of known and lesser-known hip hop landmarks, organized by borough.

Henry Chalfant, DEZ TFA at his Kay Gee wall, Graffiti Hall of Fame, 106th St and Broadway, Manhattan, 1983. © 2018 Henry Chalfant / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Courtesy Eric Firestone Gallery, New York.

GRAFFITI HALL OF FAME — HARLEM

Founded in 1980 by Ray “Sting Ray” Rodriguez, Graffiti Hall of Fame is located in Harlem’s Jackie Robinson Educational Complex, and serves as a space for artists to hone their skills. While some of the murals are outside, most of them…


Every Sunday since 1994, New Yorkers and people around the world have traveled to 555 Edgecombe Avenue Apartment #3F to enjoy two hours of live jazz music in Marjorie Eliot’s living room.

555 Edgecombe Avenue. Photographer unknown.

THE 14-STORY BUILDING, IN HARLEM’S SUGAR HILL NEIGHBORHOOD, IS KNOWN AS THE PAUL ROBESON RESIDENCE, AND WAS HOME TO MANY FAMOUS BLACK MUSICIANS AND ARTISTS.

Count Basie, Bruce Langhorne, Andy Kirk, and Paul Robeson, who the building is named after, had all lived here. It was built in 1916 and became a National Historic Landmark in 1976. When it opened, the building was for whites only, but by the 1940s, the building became exclusively black.

Eliot, petite with big, wiry red hair, is a longtime Harlem resident, jazz musician, actress, playwright, and teacher…


When it comes to creating songs, while most (if not all) the credit is given to singers and songwriters, producers and engineers are an often overlooked piece to the puzzle.

Photo via infamousmusician.com.

AT THE MOST BASIC LEVEL, PRODUCERS OVERSEE ASPECTS OF THE CREATION OF A SONG OR ALBUM.

Production is the “missing ingredient that allows ideas to flow,” Otto Botté (Nacor Zuluaga) said. Otto Botté is a producer, sound engineer, and musician.

The missing ingredients can include choosing the songs, musicians, instruments, and/or vocalist(s), as well as deciding how those instruments are played, how the notes are sung, and where the music will be recorded. …


Queensbridge Houses, named after the Queensboro Bridge and known simply as “Queensbridge,” “The Bridge,” or “QB,” is the largest housing project in New York City and the largest in North America. Before the 1950s, New York City and the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) were some of the last few places where projects remained unsegregated, though the majority of residents were lower and middle-class white people. By the 1960s, the racial makeup of Queensbridge shifted from being predominantly white to black and Latinx families.

Queensbridge Houses. Photo by Liz Barclay.

MANY INFLUENTIAL MUSICIANS HAVE CALLED QUEENSBRIDGE THEIR HOME.

Marley Marl born in Queens on September 30, 1962, was one of them. His older…


Genius is exceptional intellectual or creative power or other natural ability. Musical genius can be defined as having “technical mastery, virtuosity, emotional depth, integrity, originality, understanding, and transcendence.” Even colloquially, we tend to associate genius with something that is extraordinary, something that only a few people have, usually by birth or by putting in intense work or effort. While we revere genius, we should also note how some of our ideals are rooted in racism and sexism.

A generic search for “genius” on any search engine reveals that for many authors, the default idea of a genius is a probably…


I remember the moment when Chester Bennington, the lead singer of Linkin Park, died by suicide. I experienced a lot of angst growing up, both as a stereotypical teenager and especially as a loner. His music helped me through some of my emotions. I had also experienced extreme depression, so it felt like a gut punch to see someone who seemingly had it all was actually still miserable.

Twitter/@ChiayuehYoung

A few years later, I overheard a coworker talking about how she didn’t believe Chester killed himself, and that it was a “setup” to get more record sales. It seems to be…


The first well-known rivalry was birthed out of a 1981 rap battle between Busy Bee and Kool Moe Dee at the Harlem World Stage. At the time, Busy Bee was known as a “party MC” because of his style of rapping and ability to hype crowds. He was also a very funny person, oftentimes comparing himself to Muhammad Ali, calling people “bums” and taking photos with the trophies he was sure to take home that night.

Busy Bee. Image via Genius.

A heckler in the crowd repeatedly said that Busy Bee could not defeat anybody, especially not Kool Moe Dee, who was also in the…


In New York City alone, the entertainment industry brought in over $8 billion per year in revenue. But in just a few weeks, events and venues with a 500 or more capacity were banned, then they operated at half capacity before shuttering completely. Here’s how a few artists have been affected by Covid-19 transitions, and how they are dealing with the aftermath.

Aviane Vargas is a freelance creative, focusing on music production, content creation, and fashion design. She’s been producing music for nearly a decade, as well as and creating events and co-producing podcasts — such as Angela Yee’s Lip…


Recent studies and trends have shown that Millennials and Gen Z are increasingly going sober, or cutting back on the amount of alcohol they consume. Young adults are finding better ways to cope with stress outside of alcohol, such as through yoga or meditation, and there’s an increased interest in mocktails or monthly detoxes, such as “Dry January” or “Sober October.”

Sobriety within the music industry is nothing new. Straight edge, or “sXe,” was birthed from the early 1980s punk scene and challenged the notion that heavy music went hand-in-hand with heavy drug use. A growing list of artists claims…


Hi," she said shyly.

He simply nodded and pointed to the spot on the couch next to him.

"Hi," she said again, and then wanting to kick herself. Why am I repeating myself? You idiot.

"Sup." He took a swig of beer from his plastic cup. "You that girl in my English class?"

“Yeah..." she fiddled with her knees. The lights made everything in the room look like it was covered in red cellophane, her mocha and his caramel colored skin, the grey couch they were sitting on, the white walls. "How'd you know?"

Another swig from his cup.

"I…

J. Wynona

Writer. Comedy enthusiast. IG: @writerontheradio

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