Forget the negative stereotypes about rap music. There’s a whole lot of history and a whole lot of amazing music and personalities involved in the 30-odd years since Hip-Hop first arrived on the scene, and I dove right into it all last month in New York. What a blast!
Hip-Hop culture combines four discrete elements: DJ-ing, MC-ing, break-dancing and grafitti. You’ll see the latter two if you take the subway in New York — the B-Boys who do their thing at the 42nd Street / Times Square station are an institution — and you can visit any club, or just turn on VH1 to see great DJs and MCs. But to understand where it all came from, and why, you might want to consider the amazing Hip-Hop Look at New York City, offered exclusively by Debra Harris’s Hush Tours and available on Viator.com.
First stop: the Scratch Academy, on Broadway, downtown. Super-professional, packed with equipment and staffed by real pros, this is a very cool place if you ever wanted to try your hand at a little turntablin’.
You don’t want to hear about my efforts, but there were a bunch of guys there from the UK and they were pretty damn good. That was a good way to start the tour, and from there we jumped in a bus where the tour leaders, Reggie Reg and Kurtis Blow, started our education on Hip-Hop history.
Next stop: 5 Pointz, in Queens, a grafitti covered block that features a constantly changing collection of ‘pieces, productions, throw-ups and tags from all the city’s best known aerosol artists, as they are affectionately known by those who speak fluent PC. A great spot for photo buffs, and definitely not on the usual tour bus schedule!
Uptown is next, Harlem and the Apollo Theatre and… a most excellent lunch, very soul food, very authentic, all included. After lunch we had only the drive back to midtown to look forward to, but it turned out to be the best part of the tour: Kurtis Blow told us the story of his huge 1980 hit, The Breaks, and even had the crowds on the sidewalk waving at the bus as he turned up the volume. There was a lot of “Yo, Kurtis” going on.
Great tour, great fun, very cool tour guides. Like music? Do the Hip-Hop Look at New York City the next time you’re in New York!