Transcript: Mayor Adams Hosts Reception to Celebrate 50th Anniversary of Hip Hop

August 11, 2023

LeRoy McCarthy: What we’re doing today is celebrating 50 years of hip hop. We have very distinguished luminaries in hip hop in the house today. The pioneers of hip hop in the house today. Not everybody in hip hop could be in this room or be in Gracie Mansion, but we’re grateful for everybody who is here.

Thank you to the staff of City Hall and Gracie Mansion for your participation in making this a success today. There is a sponsor, .HipHop, who sponsored this event, and they are going to give domain names to the pioneers that are a part of this today. Kool Herc, Cindy Campbell, Kool DJ Red Alert, Coke La Rock. Shout out to Sha-Rock, the first woman MC.

So you know… All right, so thank you also to the artists who contributed their art to be a part of this Lady O, Derek Clark, Salaam Remi, Tatiana. That Slick Rick piece in the back is amazing. Y’all check it out in the back when you circulate around. Mr. Kool Herc here, a part of this event, thankfully.

DJ Kool Herc:Only thing I want to play, Happy Birthday.

McCarthy: All right, so we’re going to play Happy Birthday later on and Play that Funky…

DJ Kool Herc: No, no, no.

McCarthy: All right, y’all got the DJ. DJ’s going to step up.

DJ Kool Herc: Records. 

McCarthy: But .HipHop is here. They really contributed and being a big part of this. Their domain is trying to take hip hop forward into the future with their domain name. So .HipHop is a .com-ish domain that, for hip hop. So hip hop can have its own domain name. So thank you very much to .HipHop.
Thank you very much to Sprite and Liberty distributors for the Sprite cans that are here celebrating hip hop. And everybody a part of this, thank you for being here. Thank you for being in the house. Thank you for being a part of history.

Cindy Campbell is here. She’s the first woman of hip hop. It was her party in 1973 at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue that her brother, Kool Herc, put the music on. Sha-Rock, where you on? Sha-Rock, step up here. Kool DJ Red Alert, Ralph McDaniels, come on. Step up. Step up.

So along that line, what we’re trying to do is just honor the founders of hip hop. Not everything. Not everybody… Not everybody lives to be 50 years old. A lot of soldiers didn’t make it this far. The music has endured at last and it’s a part of who we all are. When’s the last time hip hop been in Gracie Mansion? When’s the last time hip hop been in City Hall? So I want to thank Mayor Adams. I’d like to thank Mayor Adams, a very hip hop friendly mayor for allowing us to happen.

But we also can’t forget the designers. We got April Walker in the house today. We got BK’s own Brooklyn Life in the house.

So with all of that said, there’s a lot of dignitaries who are not here, who are here in spirit. The families that stood behind these accomplished artists are a part of what we’re doing here as well, because nobody makes it on its own.

We got a whole clan up in here, the Wu-Tang from the [inaudible]. All due respect. We got Lil D up here, we got Slick Rick up here… Not Slick. We got Special L up in this… Slick Rick in Nevada, but all due respect to everybody who ever wrote a rhyme, dropped a beat, produced, fashion, consulted, or made a video, or made art, break dance, regular dance, whatever the case may be. So I put this together in order to celebrate hip hop and I did some other things too.

Thank you for New York won New Yorker of the week. So with all that said, it ain’t about me, but I definitely want to just thank everybody for being a part of this. At this time, the City Hall, Gracie Mansion, I’m not sure what they’re going to do next.

Jason, what’s next? All right. All right, so I’m going to step off the stage now, but thank everybody for being here. Thank you you once again to .HipHop for being a part of this. And happy birthday to hip hop.

Happy anniversary to hip hop. Melle Mel up in this space. Come on now. Come on now. So with all that said, we’re going to step off the stage right now. The DJ, he stepped up, they got like a program. So we’re going to play Happy Birthday for hip hop and all that good stuff. Thank you everybody. All right.

Melle Mel: Everybody give it up for the father of hip hop. The one and only Kool Herc. The one and only the one and only Kool Herc that gave this gift that gift that he gave to me, and then it went on to give to everybody in the world. Give it up. I don’t know. I don’t care who you are, hip hop did something for you. Give it up. Hip hop did something for you. Give it up. Hip hop did something to you. Give it up.

We got the father of the microphone, Coke La Rock in the building. Give it up for Coke La Rock. We got the queen of the microphone, Sha-Rock in the building. Give it up. And look, and let me just say this, I knew her. I’m a day one dude. I was a little boy. I seen Herc do what he had to do. I realized what I had to do. This is what Kool Herc told me one night. He said hip hop was a dream, just like the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King. Little black boys and little white boys and little white boys and little white girls could get together and party together, sing songs together, write round together, even drink some beer, smoke some weed together.

But this is who we are. And this is what was given to me. And this is what I want to give back to you. And it’s hip hop. Happy 50th Anniversary, Happy 50th A… We love y’all and we love y’all and we love y’all.
So now if you believe in real true hip hop, everybody makes some noise.

Moderator: Ladies and gentlemen, please put your hands together for the assemblywoman representing the Boogie Down Bronx in the 79th Assemblywoman District, Chantel Jackson.

State Assembly Member Chantel Jackson: With so much drama in the NYC, it’s kind of hard being Chantel from the Assembly. Can I kick it?

Crowd: Yes, you can.

State Assembly Member Jackson: All right. Shout out to the real hip hop heads in this building. Shout out to the father of hip hop. I am a daughter of hip hop. Is Rubén Diaz in the crowd somewhere? I need him to make his way here. I need you to come on up. That’s my former borough president from the BX, Rubén Diaz, shout out. I need you to make your way forward.

I’m celebrating the anniversary of my dad’s death. He died a year ago tomorrow. And as a little girl, I remember how passionate he was about this form of music, and I was the girl with the extensions in the hair, the bamboo earrings at least. Thank you.

I love being with my people because when I get in the assembly and I do those things, I’m not guaranteed to get the response. But I appreciate y’all for that. I’m still working on the Fendi bag, but I definitely got the bad attitude.

But this is all about the culture, this is about the graffiti, this is about the break dancing, this is about the DJs, the two turntables and the mic, the MCs. This is about us. This is about the anniversary of the music that we created. So I want to say thank you to you all until the day I die, it’s going to be Biggie, Jay-Z, and Nas.

You already know. And this is my good brother, Ruben Diaz, as you all should know, representing the BX, where it all started. And I don’t know about Queens, but the Bronx is in the house. Queens get the money.

Rubén Diaz Jr.: What’s up, y’all? So first of all, shout out to Mayor Eric Adams for doing this. Let’s give him a strong round of applause. Come on. Y’all could do better than that. We in the mayor’s house. Who would’ve ever thought hip hop would take it this far? I want to thank Chantel for bringing me up here. This wasn’t scheduled. I want to acknowledge Rocky Buchanan and all of the board members of the Hip Hop Museum, which will be open next year. Let’s give a strong of applause for that. I just want to say this.

When I was first elected at the age of 21, 28 years ago, hip hop was in my soul and there were a lot of people who at the time said, I should not celebrate hip hop because in the world of politics, that didn’t play too well. What people didn’t realize is that when songs like Rock Box, which was my first record when I heard my name is Joseph Simmons, but my middle name is Lord when I’m rocking on the mic, you should all applaud because we’re wheeling. When I hear things like cash rules everything around me, CREAM. Got it. Got a dollar bill, y’all. Shout out to RZA.

These are all things and songs that made me feel a certain way. When KRS-One came up with the South Bronx. At the time as a young Puerto Rican from the Bronx, people wanted me to be ashamed from where I came from. He was the one who instilled that confidence in me. And so I’m not the only one. Each and every single one of you over the last 50 years, thanks to Herc, thanks to Mel, thanks to Flash, thanks to all of the pioneers, hip hop has informed us as individuals, as professionals, as adults, as parents, grandparents, and some of your even great-grandparents today.

We have a freaking police commissioner who’s here with us in Eddie Caban. Hip hop made me be a better elected official and for that, we want to say that today happy birthday, hip hop. But we have to continue to educate and we have to continue to make sure that we tell the narrative in perpetuity through the museum, through all of the outlets, through all of the artists to make sure that this genre, this culture that’s taken over the planet will continue to be the force as my man Fat Joe would say that natural resource that it is. Peace, y’all.

Moderator: Ladies and gentlemen, put your hands together for the assembly member representing East Harlem, the 68th assembly member Edward Gibbs.

State Assembly Member Edward Gibbs: First, let me say hip, hop, hippie to the hippie to hip, hip to hop-a you don’t stop the rock to the—

Crowd: [Singing.]

State Assembly Member Gibbs: Now let’s … Yeah. Yeah. Give yourselves a round of applause. Now let’s fast-forward. I take seven MCs, put them in the line and add seven more brothers who think they can rhyme. Well, it takes seven more before I go for mine. Now that’s 21 MCs—

Crowd: [Singing.]

Gibbs: Damn, we got some hip hop heads in the building. My name is Eddie Gibbs. I represent East Harlem. I’m in the New York State Assembly. I made history two years ago. I became the first, and you need to hear this hip hop. I became the first formerly incarcerated New York State legislature in this country. Thank you. So prior to me, there were three other speakers and each speaker asked you guys, let’s put our hands together for the coolest mayor in New York City and we got little one. Let’s put our heads together for Mayor Eric Adams.

I’ve known many administrations, Bloomberg, de Blasio, Dinkins. I ain’t never seen hip hop and Gracie Mansion before. We’ve been in many mansions, but it wasn’t Gracie, so we got to give it up to the coolest mayor in the city of New York, man. We got to support our brother and exit because they’re giving me that sign because all the big wigs is coming in. In exit, I want to say happy birthday, hip hop, 50 years. I’ve had the pleasure before I delved into politics of traveling all over, well, most states in this country, with my big brother, the legendary Kool DJ Red Alert, and I’m going to tell you, I breathe hip hop.
I love hip hop. I can’t stop thinking about hip hop. Hip hop is now in politics and we going to take over, y’all. Who’s the next candidate?

Moderator: Ladies and gentlemen, put your hands together for the New York City public advocate, Jumaane Williams.

New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams: Eric B for president. Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday. Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday. Happy birthday, hip hop. DJ Kool Herc, you’re not going to remember. This is your chain you gave me. You remember? You gave me the chain when I was a city council member, man, and I wear this a lot. Think about you. Think about hip hop. As they say, who thought it would take it this far? I’m so glad that the pioneers are getting their flowers while they’re still here for this immense culture that they created.

Our brother KRS said, rap is something you do and hip hop is something you live. I’ve been trying my best to live hip hop because hip hop raised me. Hip hop brought us where we are now. I got to organize Sedgwick Avenue 1520 to help them maintain affordable housing to now it is phenomenal. My mother didn’t want me listening to hip hop, and it is a worldwide impact. We are at Gracie Mansion celebrating the birthday of hip hop. I know the Bronx birthed it, I know that, but I got to say Brooklyn raised it. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.

Bronx, BK. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I gave Bronx its props. I gave Bronx its props. Yes, sir. All right. I got to go. Thank y’all so much. Thank you to the mayor, peace and blessing. Loving and light to y’all. Happy birthday, hip hop.

Moderator: Please welcome the first deputy mayor for the New York City Office of the Mayor, Sheena Wright.

First Deputy Mayor Sheena Wright: All right, Jumaane, don’t start none won’t be none. All right. All right, y’all. I’m Sheena Wright and I am from the Boogie Down Bronx. I was three-years-old when hip hop was born, so do the math. I’m not ashamed to tell my age. So literally hip hop. Thank you. I’m getting compliments up here from the legends. Literally hip hop, this is the official, official, y’all. Y’all got to pay attention because this is where we’re going to do the official, official with the mayor. Okay. Hip hop has been the soundtrack to my life as well as all of our lives.

And what I just want to say is from the Bronx, and you’ve heard it from other speakers, people said that the Bronx was burning. They said that the city was overrun with crime, that nothing good could come out of our communities, but hip hop showed them who we are. Right? That we are brilliant, that we are creative, that we are business people, that we are entrepreneurial, that we’re all of that and then some. And then it’s fitting and appropriate that on this day and every August 11th to come, we have to lift up our culture, our communities, and what we have contributed to society. I see you, Rocky. Thank you for all you do as the leader of the Hip Hop Museum. How could you not see Rocky? He’s head and shoulders above everybody else.

So at this time, I would like to call back up on the stage … As I said, this is the official official. We giving proclamations and whatnot. I need to call up on the stage MC Sha Rock. Coke La Rock. Come on. These are the pioneers. Ralph McDaniels. Uncle Ralph. Thank you, Ralph, for everything you do. Cindy Campbell, who set it off. It was that woman’s touch, right sis? DJ Cool Herc, and Cool DJ Red Alerts. And I would like to introduce at this time, from the hip hop First Deputy Mayor, I’d like to introduce the 110th mayor of the City of New York, Hip Hop Mayor Eric Adams.

Mayor Eric Adams: What Sheena stated, sometimes in our celebratory state that we get the emotional part of a journey and we really don’t reflect on what it really means, and what Sheena stated was so powerful. And I tell this story all the time of when I was the state senator, mom used to walk past Brooklyn Borough Hall and Brooklyn Borough Hall is just an impressive building, and it’s very intimidating. Many of us, we walk in and out of these locations. Some of you have played on some of the major stages and you have done some big things, but that’s not our parents and grandparents. Walking inside and being backstage, being with some of the elite folks, it is intimidating for them. And mom used to walk past Borough Hall and she just felt as though that was so removed from what she was able to do. They broke down, our parents. Our parents were broke down so much and they just say, “My baby can just graduate from high school.” The expectation was so low.

And when I became state senator, there was just a different look in her eye. And then all of a sudden when she would walk past Borough Hall, remember in the days of raising us in Brooklyn and in Queens, she would be treated in just a disrespectful way going into governmental agencies. And she’d just really rather do without having to navigate the challenges of government. But then when I became the first Black borough president, and she used to walk into Brooklyn Borough Hall as this sister with an attitude. Her walk was different. Now she had arthritic knees and she would lean on the cane, but she would walk differently. When people would stop her, she would say, “My son is the borough president.” She identified what her role was and what her status was. All that she went through no longer was significant because she knew what she was.

And so I need to say to you, hip hop, you must identify where you are right now. 50 years later, from block parties to carrying crates of records, to music in the park, to having to draw your own flyers, to doing the $5 event, the $3 cups, to trying to be able to make your music real and having to deal with some of the contracts and then get what you want. Look at 50 years later. Look at 50 years later. The mayor of the most powerful city on the globe is a hip hop mayor. You have Giovanni Williams, the public advocate, a hip hop public advocate. Hakeem Jeffries, the first person of color to lead a minority party in Congress, hip hop. Letitia James, hip hop. Alvin Braggs, hip hop. Eric Gonzalez, hip hop. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, hip hop. Carl Heastie, hip hop. Adrienne Adams, hip hop. The mayor of Chicago, hip hop. The mayor of Atlanta, hip hop. The mayor of Los Angeles, hip hop. Rubén Diaz Jr, somewhere around here, hip hop.

So if you just look at this, a 50 year celebration of a successful music genre and not understand that hip hop was more than just music, it changed the attitude. You went from saying what you can’t do to what you can can do. So if you are not walking differently, if you are not thinking differently, if you are not acting differently, then this is just a ceremonial moment taking place on the stage of entertainment history. This is more than that. We finally have reached where we are. And right in the midst of us, when policing has been abusive for so many years, now the police commissioner, the first Puerto Rican police commissioner, it’s a hip hop commissioner.

Hip hop is running things. And we got to now connect the dots, because this moment is the moment of empowerment and you have to connect the dots in the moment. So now you not only only performing on the stage, you must now control the industry. You must do the distribution, you must redefine the streaming, you must look at it, like it or not, AI is in the game. We must be prepared for what’s going to happen. You no longer need folks to be your middleman or middle woman. You no longer need someone to determine what and how you produce. You can go online and get 35 million views and do whatever you want to do. This is what you all asked for. This is what mommy fought for.

This is our moment, and we cannot relegate this moment to insignificant crabs in the barrel, petty fighting among each other. Got to use this moment. This is a window of opportunity. A window of opportunities. And they’re going to beat us up, they’re going to demonize us, they’re going to attack us. They realize, this god darn Eric Adams, man, what are we going to do with him? You can’t do anything with me because you couldn’t do anything with hip hop. Now you all bounce into the beat of hip hop. The same music you hated, now you are elated to have played among you. Who are you kidding? Who are you kidding? Don’t act like you always love hip hop. Now you’re the movie scores. Now the children are listening to it. Now they want to dress like you. They want to act like you, they want to walk like you, they want to talk like you. We must understand the power we have. While we try to tear it down, everyone is trying to lift it up. They are hip hopping all over the globe.

So that’s what these 50 years represent, and these icons and these giants that have been part of this, and the younger groups that are coming up, we should always give honor to those who paved the way to make it possible. That’s why they have a hall of fame, so that they make sure when you induct people in there that they can be taken care of financially for the rest of their lives. Because they set the foundation to allow people to play the games that they’re doing today. We must always make sure that these pioneers and icons have a place to stay, and compel people to respect what they laid. I mean, who didn’t like DJ Ralph McDaniels, running home to Video Music Box?

And who didn’t like that? That was the best, cheapest date you could ever bring your shorty to, watching Video Music Box. DJ Red Alert, KRS One talking about Black cop, Black cop long before we had to. That was great moments, man, and inspired us. It took a broken child who was dyslexic, arrested, rejected, and now he’s elected to be the mayor of the city of New York. That’s what this is about. That’s what this celebration is about.

And I want us to know that you are now in Gracie Mansion. That’s how good God is. 50 years could have fallen when another mayor was here. 50 years could have fallen when De Blasio was mayor. 50 years could have fallen when any other mayor. God made the intersectionality of 50 years of hip hop to be at the time that Eric Adams, the hip hop Mayor, is in office. That is the significance of the moment. And that is how great the moment is. The only equivalent that many people don’t even remember. And I want you to reflect on how powerful the moment was. The only equivalent of this moment was the moment when Nelson Mandela left jail when we had the first African-American mayor, and he was able to receive him with the level of royalty that he deserved.

I am able to receive you with the level of royalty you deserve as a hip hop mayor. Thank you very much. So we’re going to give this proclamation in the city, where hip hop was born… I know it got to bring chills to some of you, man. In the city where hip hop was born, we are going to give this proclamation and name today, the Hip Hop 50th Anniversary Day, I, Eric Adams, the mayor after David Dinkins, do proclaim New York City as Hip Hop Anniversary Day. Congratulations to you all. Speak on behalf of everyone. We got you.

DJ Kool Herc: I must say thank you very much. Very, very much. A lot of people, I wasn’t here. My mother and my father is here. Also, Marcus Garvey is here. You know what I’m saying? And my sister, Ms. Cindy Campbell is here. All right. It’s an immigrant story. It’s an immigrant story. Are we here, man? We give up. Don’t give up. See, also, I’ll never forget [inaudible] O’Brien. I’ve been to Daytime, so you have respect. All right. You fought, you can get up. Thank you. All right, thank you.

Cindy Campbell: Want to thank everyone for being here and it’s a nice peaceful breakfast. Eric Adams, thank you. The mayor with the swagger. I got to say it. And thank you everybody. And we love you all. Thank you.

And we know that you wear a lot of hats, so we got you a Kool Herc hat from Christie. And.

Mayor Adams: Let me get that in large.

Campbell: Okay. And we got you one in the [inaudible] from the flyers. Thank you. I want to see you wearing it.


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