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Watch Live Streams: Hip Hop 50th Anniversary

An epic event featuring music, art, and inspiration.

On October 26th, York College Foundation hosted a day-long celebration marking the 50th anniversary of Hip Hop and the unique prominence Queens holds as a pioneering force in hip hop history. The celebration spotlighted music, art, a tribute to women in hip hop, and honored the legendary Ralph McDaniels known fondly by many as “Uncle Ralph,” Founder of Video Music Box and Hip Hop Coordinator at Queens Public Library, at a special evening reception. In recognition of the influence of hip hop worldwide, York College has made hip hop part of the elective curricula, offering a course charting the genre’s growth and life-changing cultural impact.

Watch Live Streams of Events

Women Trailblazers

The morning started with a panel of influencers who shared their perspectives on the trailblazing role women play in hip hop. Pat Robinson hosted the panel of speakers featuring Amber Corrine, staff writer at Vibe.com; Jazzie Belle; multimedia personality; and Nye$, performer and musical producer.

Cypher in Action

Chip Fu, internationally recognized lyrical engineer, led an unforgettable experience with rappers on center stage and opened by music from York students, led by Prof. Tom Zablinger. Legendary X-Fénz Crew also faced off against Team Wondrous in an epic breakdancing battle.

Insights Shared

B.Dot is a SE Queens resident and an NYC-based journalist and broadcaster. A revered voice with era-defining interviews of Jay-Z, Drake, Nipsey Hustle, and countless others, B.Dot was interviewed by York Performing Arts Prof. Abimbola Kai-Lewis, an ethnomusicologist. (Live Video starts at 16.00)

The day featured an exhibit curated by award-winning photojournalist Kenneth Harris, which paid homage to the pioneers, artists, and moments that shaped the hip hop movement. Harris' exhibit was seen in the York College Art Gallery. And, the vibrant world of graffiti art was featured in the College's atrium with Eric Black showcasing his striking creations.

To launch this anniversary event, a committee was formed and Co-Chaired by Dawn Kelly, York College Foundation Board of Directors and Founder & CEO of the Nourish Spot; and Pat Robinson, who held key roles at Hot 97, WBLS, and WLIB, and is currently Chief Administrative Officer at Greater Jamaica Development Cooperation. “We are grateful for the insight and ideas offered by Dawn and Pat, two leaders who helped us shape this important day,” said York College President Berenecea Johnson Eanes. “Their involvement has been central to our effort to ensure that Queens is recognized as a cultural influencer in hip hop throughout New York City, the nation, and worldwide,” she added.

In talking about what inspired her to help organize the celebration at York, Ms. Robinson said, “Hip Hop is my story. It is why I lead the way I lead today; it gave me swag and confidence. It made me believe. The culture provided me with a direct lens into storytelling that I held onto growing up in the projects in my childhood. Hip Hop influenced greatness within me, it reminded me of real-life challenges, but it always told me the story authentically. I am proud to pay homage to 50 years of Hip Hop and to the legends that skillfully created a global phenomenon that the world benefits from today.”

Ms. Kelly added, “The roots of hip hop are strong across Queens from Astoria to Southside Jamaica. From LL Cool J, 50 Cent, Lost Boyz, Nicki Minaj, Run DMC, Queens reigned supreme in the early 70s delivering hit after hit to the streets. I applaud President Eanes and York College/CUNY for recognizing the trailblazing work of hip hop icon Ralph McDaniels and for celebrating and studying the 50-year-old cultural phenomena and music genre.”

Capping off the celebration was an evening reception that paid tribute to Ralph McDaniels, a legend whose impact has been felt across the globe. At the reception honoring Mr. McDaniels, York College Hip Hop Scholars was announced. The Hip Hop Scholars program will be supported by funds raised and by partnering with industry-leading companies, organizations and establishing affiliations. The program will provide scholars with tools to secure competitive internships and leadership-track jobs in a wide range of fields and will provide wrap-around support for their education journey (tuition, mentorship, emergency grants, books, transportation). “We are excited to celebrate Ralph McDaniels’ influence and impact. He has played a pivotal role in hip hop culture and in the community,” said President Eanes at the event.

Thank you to our Sponsors: Greater Jamaica Development Corp, York College Alumni Association, DJ Magic, Nourish Spot and Community Partners: Council Member Nantasha Williams, and Jamacia Center for Arts & Learning (JCAL).