Hip Hop & New York

* The birth of hip hop
* Gangs and hip hop

The birth of hip hop
All sources seem to point to the Bronx in New York City as the origin for the hip-hop culture. There were three major events which took place in the Bronx which led to the birth of this subculture.

1. In 1959 Parks Commissioner Robert Moses began building an expressway through the heart of the Bronx. As a result, the middle class Italian, German, Irish, and Jewish neighborhoods disappeared overnight. In addition, businesses and factories relocated and left this borough. These exiting middle classes and businesses were replaced by poor black and Hispanic families. Accompanying these poor people were crime, drug addiction and unemployment.
2. Also under the direction of Parks Commissioner Robert Moses in 1968, a 15,382 unit co-op apartment complex was built on the northern edge of the Bronx near an expressway. This project fostered and accelerated the Bronx middle class exodus from comfortable and well-kept apartments. As a result of the skyrocketing vacancy rates reputable landlords began selling out to professional slumlords. As a consequence of this action the Bronx deteriorated into a neighborhood with many unkept and vacant buildings.

The Bronx in this deteriorating condition fell prey to the third major event which led to the direct development of the graffiti aspect of the hip hop culture. This event occurred in 1968 and coincided with Robert Moses' second major project in the Bronx, the Co-Op City. It should be noted that these last two events were not related. This third event involved a group of seven teenager boys who began terrorizing the vicinity around the Bronxdale Project on Bruckner Boulevard in the southeast Bronx. This may not seem important but this group of teenagers laid the groundwork for a surge of street gang activity that would overwhelm the Bronx for the next six years. This group at first called itself the Savage Seven, but as more members joined, the group changed its name to the Black Spades. Overnight street gangs appeared on every corner of the Bronx. It should be noted that Afrika Bambaataa was a member and leader of the Black Spades at one time (Source: Wikipedia and Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute).

Gangs and hip hop
Afrika Bambaataa and the hip hop movement in the South Bronx created a cultural alternative to gangs, The Universal Zulu Movement, or the Zulu Nation. While in Chicago and Los Angeles, gangs would be institutionalizating in the ghettoes and barrios, in New York, gangs would come and go but hip hop lives on.

While hip hop often gets confused with street culture, it is a powerful alternative to the nihilism of the streets.

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