The Boogie Down Bronx

I stayed in the Bronx during my time in NYC and while I was there I Djayed at a Zulu Nation event which was in the Bronx. I have to bigup Chief69 and Charlie Hustle for letting me throw down, I had a lot of fun. Here is a picture of me looking overwhelmed with joy after Djing in the Bronx.

My Set

I opened my set with a vocal intro I had put together the night before, which gave props to The Universal Zulu Nation on their 40th anniversary. My set was made up of Funk, Electro and some Boom Bap goodness. The logistics of the gig were not cool…at all. There is never a perfect setup when you play live and you just have to roll with what you have. The only headphones I had with me are wak for Djing and the monitoring was a not great but I am told a bad workman blames his tools…fair nuff…but due to these issues I pinged my first mix…

…but it’s live ish and the main thing is to keep the flow and the journey rolling.

The Highlight

During the set Johnny Juice from Public Enemy turned up and was initially spectating but Moyma got him dancing which was cool as he told me he told me he doesn’t usually dance. He also came up to me while I was playing and jokingly said to me that I wasn’t allowed to play music he produced. I didn’t know he was going to be there but some P.E. had to be played either way.

Anyway he got loose and the guy can dance. If you don’t know who Johnny Juice is, click the picture below.

This was a really cool gig for me as I had a chance to spin in the birthplace of Hiphop. I think it is important to respect the architects and their history. The Bronx is at the root of this culture but why is the Bronx important??? I hear some of you ask…

Buckle up for a very brief balloon trip through some important events that led to the birth of Hiphop and from that, you will see why The Bronx is a very important place.

Where is the Bronx?

The Bronx is the northern borough of NYC. For those of you in the UK, when I say ‘northern’ I just mean it is in the north. It doesn’t mean they also deep fry chocolates and wear T-Shirts in the winter, when they go out drinking at the weekend. The fact it is in the north of NYC has no bearing in regards to Hiphop culture but it is worth knowing. Yeh I hate geography too.

The Bronx in the 70s

At this time no one cared about the Bronx. NYC in the 70’s was going through bankruptcy and apparently things were so bad in the Bronx, some of the landlords were burning down their own buildings for the insurance money. The South Bronx was the hot spot to avoid. It became an abandoned place, a place of devastation.

Gangs of New York

Walking around The Bronx at that time must have been a nightmare and from the countless people I spoke to who grew up at that time, you could get jumped at any time for just being in the wrong place. Here is a list of some of the gangs who were active at this time – The Imperial Bachelors, The Golden Guineas, The Dragons, The Latin Kings, The Ministers, The Spades, The Renegades, The Savage Skulls, The Baby Skulls, The Black Pearls, The Turbans, Young Sinners, Royal Javelins, Dutchmen, Magnificent Seven, Dirty Dozens, Liberated Panthers, Ghetto Brothers.

These gangs had members as young as 8 years old who all had to go through some sort of initiation ceremony, sometimes it was ‘Russian Roulette’ .

The Breaking Point

The violence was destroying the community and so…

…a city wide peace meeting was held in 1973 at The Boy’s Club on Hoe Avenue to try and stop the violence that was prevalent. Many street organisations, city officials, police and gangs reps were present. It was hard times and The Bronx was being ignored and left to its own destruction, peace was needed and wanted.

The Birth of A Culture

An ex gang member by the name of Afrika Bambaataa…

….started to organise events in the community.

Some gang members thought it was a setup and were worried they would get ambushed if they went, but others were intrigued. At these events…people were dancing and playing music and Afrika Bambaataa who is the founder of The Universal Zulu Nation would get on the mic and urge them to stop the violence. These parties were the start of a huge change and Hiphop was born!

Hiphop dented the gang culture by giving the youth a new focus and a way to unite and empower themselves through Breaking…

Djing…

Graffiti…

and MCing.

These jams were held in parks and school yards where anyone could go. It became a safe place where people of all ages could come together.

The youth found a new voice and the energy they had spent on fighting was being funneled into developing the elements of Hiphop culture. Everything they did to develop these styles they did in their own way with their own swagga. In this clip Kool Herc explains how he developed his style of repeating the section of the record that the dancers were whiling out to.

The battling went from violence, to battling with skills within the dance and Djing. The dance styles were heavy influenced by how they fought but now instead of fighting they would battle with the violence of their movement. Ruh!

My knowledge is still growing on all of this but that is a very basic breakdown of how Hiphop was born. You can explore off the back of the names and events I have mentioned, if you are interested in finding out more.

I had a great time in the Bronx as it felt like home away from home and to be honest I get more trouble where I live now than I ever got in the Bronx. I miss the Bronx and I miss the 6 train.

Massive shout to the people who looked after me in the Bronx and the people who gave me the breakdown on its history and how things were back when Hiphop started. Respect to Bom5, Chief69, Dollar, Dutch, Miguel, The Bronx Boys Rocking Crew and The Universal Zulu Nation.

“Study the past if you would like to define the future.” – Confucius.














Discussion

  • Sabrina said on April 8, 2014

    Another great post, Moyma! Really interesting. I’ve been doing a lot of research and meeting a lot of the OGs bc of your posts. Thank you for introducing me to the great history of my city:) The Bx and NYC misses you man. Can’t wait to have you back. The brand new Universal Hip Hop Museum is up and running in the Bx.. it’ll be one of the first spots to hit up when you’re back 😉

  • Sabrina said on April 17, 2014

    *the Universal Hip Hop Museum will soon be up and running*




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