Hip-hop’s history is long and storied, with a dozen American cities laying claim to hatching distinct subgenres. But each of those metros would happily tell you the true birthplace of hip-hop is New York City—and specifically, the South Bronx. That’s where DJs like Kool Herc, Afrikaa Bambaataa and Grandmaster Flash first dropped their revolutionary breakbeats at block parties in the 1970s, launching a movement that changed the shape of music and culture forever.
And now hip hop is getting the major monument it’s long deserved, right where it belongs. The New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) recently announced a new home for the Universal Hip Hop Museum along the Harlem River waterfront in the South Bronx. In addition to the new museum, the long-vacant, city-owned lot (located in the Lower Concourse neighborhood, adjacent to the 145th St. bridge) will also feature hundreds of affordable housing units, a multiplex theater, and a food and beverage hall for local vendors.
The project has been in the works for several years, but really picked up steam once hip-hop legends like Kurtis Blow and Ice-T joined forces with the museum. Blow, the museum’s chairman, said in a press release that the new site “may be the single most important project for the preservation of hip-hop culture.” He continued, “I thank God, as I am elated to know that this mecca devoted to the cultural phenomenon of hip-hop will preserve not only my legacy, but also the legacies of many others for the world to see.”
Expect the museum to tell the past, present and future story of hip-hop through interactive exhibits that employ cutting-edge technology from two of the project’s partners: Microsoft and Google. The museum will also include a performance space, suggesting that local artists and icons alike could drop in (and drop bars) when they’re in the neighborhood.
The only bad news? You’ll have to wait five years for phase one of the project to be completed. But that leaves plenty of time for hip-hop to keep on changing; hell, by 2022, maybe there’ll be an entire wing dedicated to Cardi B.