Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The HOS Harlem Gift Guide 2015

In Harlem, every personalized gift can be found right in time for Christmas. With the days counting down, we’ve selected 12 exquisite gifts from an array of local Harlem shops and artists.


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Press Preview: Two weeks until Soul Nativity 2015

The birth of a Savior, reimagined in Harlem. Mary and Joseph find their way along the traffic of 125th Street. Though not as old as the ancient story, this timeless production has been alive since 1995.

Starring the bright faces of the Harlem School of the Arts, the holiday spectacular features dance, live music and a soulful story that has changed with the times. 

“The way that we do the show - we do it in a modern setting, not 2,000 years ago in the Middle East, we set it in New York City,” said Alfred Preisser, Artistic Director of HSA.

Preisser has directed and produced of over 50 shows in New York and Europe but still remains committed and connected to the story that’s evolved over the years.

“I’ve done the show with AndrĂ© De Shields who’s a Broadway star, I’ve done the show on 141st Street with students,” he said. “So it’s over 20 years I have a relationship to this show and Tracy, who’s giving notes to the cast right now, was actually a 12 year-old girl in the first version of Soul Nativity that I ever saw.” 

Soul Nativity 2015 joins an ensemble of performers including the Dorothy Maynor Singers, the HSA Young Theatre Alliance, the Harlem Japanese Choir and the Voices of Flame Choir.

“We are heavily influenced R&B, the sound of Motown,” he added. “We’re referencing Gladys Night and the Pips and contemporary acts, and there’s enough room and humor in the story for people to really express themselves and be themselves.”

With a mix of traditional and new this year’s production include a ballet interlude choreographed by Aubrey Lynch. The creative team includes Tracy Jack, director, and Jeffrey Bolding from the Abyssinian Baptist Church.

“There’s actually a lot of heart and some serious messages at the bottom of all this song and dance,” said Preisser. “It’s like celebrate life, and if you are religious celebrate the life of everybody.”

The show will also debut for the first time British Virgin Islands on Dec. 4, while partnering with a youth empowerment program in Tortola, before opening at home in Harlem on Dec. 11.

For over 50 years, the premier arts institute has a history of devoting its programs to enriching and developing talented professionals across all disciplines in the arts.

HSA is located on 645 St. Nicholas Avenue, at 141st Street, Hamilton Heights. For information on Soul Nativity 2015 visit: www.hsanyc.org. Tickets are $20 in advance; $25 at the door; $15 for students.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The 2015 Justice Ball: Harry Belafonte, the Central Park Five, Alida Garcia Honored

Harry Belafonte pictured with Dr. Martin Luther King
Champions of justice, human rights and equality were at the forefront of the 2015 Justice Ball, organized by The Gathering at the Apollo Theater on Monday evening.

The gala took place in Harlem to commemorate the life and work Harry Belafonte, the vindicated Central Park Five and activist Alida Garcia. 

“This past year has been the most fulfilling part of my life being apart of this,” said Garcia.

With the Justice League NYC, the Stanford graduate spends her time - night and day - working to develop cultural outlet programs in penitentiaries and improve the issues within detention centers and child incarceration.

The Central Park Five were honored by the Jersey Four and tributed with a performance by Immortal Technique.

It was in 1989, that media and public opinion shifted against young teens Raymond Santana Jr., Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Anton McCray and Kharey Wise, after a 28-year-old woman was brutally slain in Central Park. Stories described the young men as a  “wolf pack,” “the roving gang” and “crazed misfits.” 

They were vilified by the press and local politicians, with Donald Trump even placing an ad in the New York Times reading “Bring Back the Death Penalty” for the group of men declared innocent after years in prison for a crime they never committed.

“Ken Burns, in the film, said that we became the worst human beings on the earth and everyone turned their backs to us,” said Richardson. “We are what happens when the system fails, and all we had was each other.”

The Gathering also celebrated its 10-year anniversary with performances by Trinidad’s Machel Montana, Jon Batiste and V Bozeman, of “Empire.”

“Artists are the gatekeepers of truth,” said Henry Belafonte quoting Paul Robeson in his remarks expressing gratitude and humility. 

Jon Batiste serenading Harry Belafonte during the Justice Ball. 
For over eight decades Belafonte has dedicated his life to securing freedom for men, women and children  to establish a standard for equal human rights.

Robeson was listed among Eleanor Roosevelt, W.E.B. DuBois and Dr. Martin Luther King as influentials figures that live on through the ideals they embedded into his life and within society.

“Mr. Belafonte, because you are a strong man, you have made us all strong men,” said actor Wendell Pierce, after reading “Strong Men” by poet Sterling A. Brown.

He called upon the spirit of doing for others, what is no ordinary task and one that often comes with great risk, as work that must continue on until there is a liberation for each individual in society. 


“Mr.B’s life has reminded us that human rights are truly universal and indivisible. That if we cared about a Syrian Refugee being shot, then we have to be equally be concerned with the Black child walking in Chicago being shot. Mr. B has reminded us that if we are concerned with women working in sweatshops in Bangladesh, we have to worry about women working in catfish farms in Mississippi. If we are concerned with lives individuals around the world, whether they be in Russia or China languishing in jail, we have to be concerned with Black lives here and think that Mr. B in his life, in his work, has reminded us that human rights are everywhere.”
  • Steven W. Hawkins, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA, on Harry Belafonte, Ambassador of Consciousness

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Breakin' Convention Redefines Power Moves

Photo Courtesy Apollo Theater
What is remembered as a New York-centric dance from a certain decade, reemerged as an art form that’s evolved internationally through the years.

Held at the Apollo Theater Thursday Oct. 13 - Sunday Oct. 18, Breakin’ Convention was a present-day response to the worldwide hip-hop phenomenon. Master classes and MainStage performances displayed the heart, raw motion, and story that defined true hip-hop.

“There’s no top best, or any of that - they are all phenomenal,” said Grandmaster Caz, co-curator of the international dance festival.

Attracting talented dance crews from all reaches of the globe, Breakin’ Convention brought the audience to their feet as iconic legends and legends-to-be-made filled the stage.

The MainStage event on Saturday was co-curated and co-hosted by Jonzi D and Grandmaster Caz, as they took the audience on a historical walk down hip-hop’s memory lane.

“Legendary… you’re not ready, because this is hip hop, this is hip hop,
The four elements are all relevant
from the residents of an enforced settlement
a sociopolitical movement for self improvement
the funky music, spiritual wealth included
as the Bronx was burning, up rose a phoenix
the charismatic Black leader, needed a remix
resurrected lead kids from savage crews
connected on Sedgewick Avenue
Cindy Campbell the first lady
In 1973 she saved the babies from the Hades
It was a state of emergency
but the Koolest Herc[ules] balanced the speakers perfectly.”
live freestyle from Jonzi D.

The Legendary Twins, the pioneers of breakin’, came before well known legends such as the NYC Rocksteady Crew and other crews known during it’s peak.

This Saturday, they were asked if they were interested in being international ambassadors for breaking convention to which they humbly accepted it as an honor.

“When we danced we pretty much set up various moves until we got into the break part of the record, the B part, we would do our best moves during that time of the record, so we just started calling us the B-boys for the break,” said Keith Smith, brother of Kevin.

Hip-hop lore and global styles of breaking were combined with modern dance, classical to reflect the world takeover that is hip-hop. It focused on it’s original purpose of spirited expression and cultural effects it’s had in areas far reaching from Harlem and the Bronx.

Les Twins, a newer set of twins from France known for their work with Beyonce and extensive career in dance, performed throughout the festival and spoke on the perseverance required to keep on dancing when they themselves experienced rejection earlier in their career.

“I may cry with my French accent,” said dancer Antoinette Gomis. “You make my dreams come true, because I dance where James Brown sang and I just have to say “I’ve got to feel it!”

Born and raised in France, Gomis performed to Nina Simone’s "Images." She articulated with motion the complexities of race relations, issues facing identity and notions of self-worth. She danced for the day, for her family and for all those who came before her.

The styles of music were rooted in hip-hop, but touched upon salsa - from the Tito Lockers from Soulsations! - and a combination sounds that reflected the cultures of a bustling and diverse city.

The BirdGang Dance Company from the UK brought the audience to their feet with a theatrical performance, The Rugged’s choreographed scenes developed in Holland and the Street Justice Crew represented goings-on of the city where it all began.

Breakin’ Convention has been produced annually at the Wells Theatre in London since 2004.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

'NYC Stands with Charleston' on 125th Street

“Black lives they matter here!” was the chant echoed amongst the crowd as New York stood in solidarity with Charleston during a vigil and rally organized by Millions March NYC on Monday, June 22 at 6:00pm.

The event, held at the plaza located on Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard and 125th Street, remembered the #Charleston9 that were slain on June 17 during a prayer meeting at South Carolina’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

“It’s really important to honor these peoples’ lives in the senseless murder that happened last Wednesday,” said Umara Elliott, Millions March NYC organizer. “I think with the media using things to distract us from this and really focusing the attention so much on Dylann Roof that people don’t even know the names of the nine people that were murdered, who they were, and what they did.”

The shooter claimed the lives of Cynthia Hurd, 54; Susie Jackson, 87; Ethel Lance, 70; Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, 49; Hon. Rev. Clementa Pinckney, 41; Tywanza Sanders, 26; Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., 74; Rev. Sharonda Singleton, 45; and Myra Thompson, 59.

“It’s as if we know more about the murderer, the beast, the thug hurting these people, that we don’t know about these nine people,” Elliott added.

The vigil recounted the history of their lives and shared the impact that they had on those around them. Organizers welcomed anyone present to speak publicly about how they were personally affected by the tragedy.

“What we’ve been seeing over the last few months is that these vicious, race-related hate crimes have been happening everywhere,” added Elliott.

The crowd came together in support of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement and unified in casting down the ideals represented by the Confederate flag during the rally. The flag, the removal of which is currently being debated by South Carolina lawmakers, was said to be a symbol of injustice and an emblem of a oppression.

“They want us to go inside, they want us to be quiet, they want us to curl up, they want it to go back to slavery,” said a speaker at the mic. “That’s why they hold up the Confederate flag, that’s why they assert violence.”

“These are the things we need to be working on,” said Feminista Jones, feminist activist, addressing the crowd regarding the killing, race, policy, social issues and community building. “Find the candidates that are saying ‘black lives matter’ and support them.”

The rally closed with a circle formation reciting the words of Assata Shakur:

"It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains."

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Pryor Journey Unfolds in "Fried Chicken & Latkes"

Rain Pryor, daughter of iconic comedian Richard Pryor, debuted her solo show at the National Black Theater in Harlem on Thursday, June 11.

With a combination of humor, heart and honesty she shares her most personal moments of coming of age with a dual identity - being of Black and Jewish decent. During the time, America was continuing in its spirit of civil rights and black power movements as Rain was experiencing her own life in the spotlight in the midst of the clamor.

The on-stage journey engaged in a cabaret-style experience as it transported the audience through the drastically different decades of Pryor’s life.

“This is for those who come before us, and those who will come after us,” said Pryor onstage.

It chronicles the tumultuous '60s into the roaring '80s as each scene documents the situations that left a deep impact on her ideas of race, show business, loss, and identity. The comedian, singer, producer and actress filled the stage with moments of laughter, fond memories and heart-wrenching pain as she took on the roles of 11 characters who played crucial roles in shaping her life.

“The development of “Fried Chicken & Latkes” has been cathartic and this fully mounted version is the culminating event,” said Pryor.

The show is directed by Kamilah Forbes, who has worked on Broadway productions of “A Raisin in the Sun,” “Holler If Ya Hear Me,” and “Lucky Guy.” The live music band included sounds from musical director and pianist Isamu McGregor, Jerry Devore on bass and drummer, Russell Carter. Opening night concluded with a celebration in the lobby partly sponsored by Kitty’s Canteen.

“With Kamilah's vision and the talent of a top-notch creative team, the June premiere marks the first time the show is more than me, a black curtain and a couple of black boxes,” said Pryor. "Thank the ancestors for creatives!”

Fried Chicken & Latkes runs until June 28 with ticket prices between $20 and $50. For more information about the show visit www.nationalblacktheatre.org

Ailey Spirit Gala Celebrates Lincoln Center Residency

The Ailey Spirit Gala launched its two-week season at Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater Thursday, June 10, 2015. Benefits from the Gala were directed towards providing scholarships for students of The Ailey School and supported Ailey’s innovative Arts in Education & Community Programs. DJ M.O.S. set the tunes for the party following the performance, which honored the Ford Foundation.

The special evening kicked-off the 15 nights of performances guided under Artistic Directors Robert Battle of Takademe, Matthew Rushing of ODETTA and Manuell Vignoule of Breakthrough, and Christopher Huggins of Annointed. Many performances feature an expanded performance of Alvin Ailey’s signature Revelations.

The performance included pieces by dancers of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Ailey II, the Ailey School and AileyCamp.

Model and actor Tyson Beckford served as Honorary Chair for this year's Gala. Attendees included co-chairs of the Gala and guests such as Janet Mock, Tituss Burgess and Naturi Naughton.

“The Ailey Spirit Gala is the perfect New York night - a world class institution having a world class celebration for a great cause,” said Beckford. “Seeing Ailey is an unforgettable experience and I am honored and excited to be part of this very special evening.”

Each year the Ailey company hosts a series of engagements at Lincoln Center among other venues across the country. The Alvin Ailey Dance theater began in 1989 and is now lead by Artistic Director Robert Battle. For more information and tickets visit www.alvinailey.org.

The two-week full schedule:

6/10, 7:00pm - The Ailey Spirit Gala (includes Revelations)
6/11, 7:30pm - Toccata, After the Rain Pas de Deux / Exodus / Revelations
6/12, 8:00pm - ODETTA / Suspended Women, In/Side / Revelations
6/13, 2:00pm - Toccata, After the Rain Pas de Deux / Exodus / Revelations (Q&A session to follow)
6/13, 8:00pm - Bad Blood / Uprising / ODETTA
6/14, 3:00pm - ODETTA / Bad Blood / Revelations
6/14, 7:30pm - Toccata, After the Rain Pas de Deux / Exodus / Revelations
6/16, 7:30pm - Chroma / Grace / Takademe, Revelations
6/17, 7:30pm - Night Creature, A Case of You / No Longer Silent / Revelations
6/18, 7:30pm - Chroma / Grace / Takademe, Revelations
6/19, 8:00pm- Exodus / Suspended Women, Takademe / Revelations
6/20, 2:00pm - Toccata, After the Rain Pas de Deux / Exodus / Revelations (Q&A session to follow)
6/20, 8:00pm - Night Creature, A Case of You / No Longer Silent / Revelations
6/21, 3:00pm- Bad Blood / Uprising / ODETTA
6/21, 7:30pm - Exodus, Strange Humors/ No Longer Silent / Revelations

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Harlem One Stop Welcomes NYCAHC to Sugar Hill to Promote West Harlem as a Tourist Destination

The annual general membership meeting of The New York City Association of Hotel Concierges was held on April 28th in Sugar Hill, West Harlem, at the new Sugar Hill Apartments and future home of the Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling, designed by David Adjaye. The Association’s meeting was held in West Harlem at the invitation of Harlem One Stop as part of a West Harlem cultural tourism initiative funded by a grant from the West Harlem Development Corporation.

The Broadway Housing Communities, the Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling hosted a reception following the meeting in its 9th floor Rio Gallery II and patio with a breathtaking unobstructed views of the surrounding Harlem/Washington Heights neighborhood.

“It’s not just where we can get space for us,” said Thomas Meckl, NYCAHC member of 27 years, who discussed the array of meeting locations. “It’s also is it a place we want our colleagues to know more about.”

As ambassadors of New York to visitors from around the world and across the country, travelers trust NYC hotel concierges to offer comprehensive information about the best that the five-boroughs have to offer.

“Manhattan is garnering these tourists and there’s a history to Harlem," said Gunter Kleemann, member and former president of the NYCAHC. “There’s a whole amazing world up here that’s as unique as any other neighborhood in Manhattan.

With special events and festivals occurring throughout the year, home to preserved historical landmarks embedded in New York’s past, and the center of cultural diversity with guided tours, the area is beginning to see a steady influx of travelers that’s growing.

Speakers of the evening included Ellen Baxter, founder and executive director of Broadway Housing Communities. She spoke of the projects that the BHC has erected which provided homes to nearly 300 households. After the meeting she lead a tour previewing the Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling.

“What I was amazed at was the size that museum was going to be downstairs, the tremendous amount of interactive stuff, and how exposing preschoolers to art really contributed to their cognitive development,” added Meckl.

The Harlem museum was built to highlight the significance of art to children ages 3-8 in an engaging way that stimulates their appreciation for creativity. SHCMAS’s educational program is guided by Steve Seidel Director of Harvard University’s Arts in Education Program and also features the historical richness of the neighborhood itself in relation to the surrounding Washington Heights and Harlem communities.

Also exclusive to Harlem is the blend of cuisine available throughout the community. The African and soul flavors were featured from Farafina Café and Lounge, which hosted the NYCAHC reception.

After opening about two years ago, the restaurant is also featured in Forbes Magazine as one of the top ten African Restaurants in New York City.  

Owner, Steve Abreu, and Chef Lemon, of the Ivory Coast, made an appearance to discuss the menu with guests and further share the culinary information of the neighborhood with the association.

“A lot of great things are happening soon and I think Farafina has something to offer anyone from any culture, and if you look at the food we serve you see the similarities with the food in the Caribbean cultures, as well as American,” said Abreu.

Dishes featured included the chef’s special take on the traditional recipe of Chicken Yassa, served with an array of staples such as Mac & cheese, mixed vegetables and Farafina’s couscous.

“The more events you have the more you explore and can participate by taking one of the tours going to the restaurants, going to the museums, and seeing what the neighborhoods have got to offer and then you are more aware and then you become more able to make first hand recommendations to the area,” added Kleemann.

(Photo credit: NYCAHC)

(Photo credit: NYCAHC)
(Photo credit: NYCAHC)
(Photo credit: NYCAHC)

Friday, April 3, 2015

HAF Uplifts Artists at 2015 Gala

Supporters of the Harlem arts community gathered at Madiba - MIST Harlem to celebrate the Harlem Arts Festival's 4th Annual Gala on Thursday, April 2nd.

"Our mission is to offer opportunities and resources, anything we can do for the artists, so if we're providing them that platform the artists take care of the rest," said Neal Ludevig, one of the co-founders of the Harlem Arts Festival.

He, along with fellow co-founders JJ El-Far and Chelsea Goding presented the 2015 Lynette Velasco Community Impact Award to Dr. Brenda Green, the Executive Director for the Center of Black Literature at Medgar Evers College.

Green devoted years to teaching, scholarship, writing, editing and research, with an intense focus on multicultural and African American literature. She is editor of  a book of essays titled The African Presence and Influence on the Cultures of the Americas.

"Lynette was a strong supporter of the Harlem Arts Festival in the early years and had a clear demonstrative passion for protecting, developing and cultivating new programs," was a connection she highlighted for it resonated with her personally. 

She recalled her middle school years in Springfield Gardens Queens where she and Lynette attended P.S. 3 and the narratives that took hold of their lives which  lead them to their calling of service to future generations in literature and art. 

"I always remember I could not do it alone," said Green, during her acceptance speech. "I stand on the shoulders of many and I am very deeply grateful to all those on whose shoulders I stand."

She thanked her family for their presence, contributions and support in her life and work, even noting how her father always reminded her of the importance of the life of the mind. 

Answering dutifully to the call of service pertaining to evolving artists and new writers was what she expressed as a continuing commitment, resounding the significance of "all lives matter."

The evening also showcased intimate performances by HAF 2015 artists Samora Pinderhughes, on piano, dancer Alia Kache and Farrah Boule, with a live band. 

The signed work of Pink Floyd, Prince, Whitney Houston and James Brown a few of the many pieces offered during a silent auction to benefit the organization's ability to enrich opportunities for growing talent.  

The evening raised around $10,000 that will support current artist initiatives and this year's festival which runs from Jun 27-28th.

"Its been an amazing evening from the speakers, to the honoree, to the performers, to the food - it's just an atmosphere of love," said Shannon Berry, visual artist, performer and West Harlem resident.

To build up artists in such an uplifting way was unique to the organization. She said the energy of optimism and support that HAF provided to the community of performers and artists were invaluable.

"I was sitting at my table grooving, then I started crying because the pianist was so moving," said Berry.

The full lineup of HAF 2015 artists were also revealed at the gala which includes an array performers with backgrounds in music, dance, theater and visual arts.

"This is such a small piece of what's happening this year and we're more than happy to be apart of it," added Ludevig. 

For more details, artists or upcoming events visit www.harlemartsfestival.com

Thursday, April 2, 2015

'Streetbird' hatches on Frederick Douglass Boulevard

Marcus Samuelsson's latest eatery, Streetbird Rotisserie is new to the Harlem foodie scene and opened its doors on Thursday, Apr. 2nd for the first time.

Lead by the James Beard Award-winning chef and owner of Red Rooster, Streetbird's cuisine adds international elements to familiar dishes to create a satiating visual and dining experience. 

The eclectic menu features 'The Fly Girl' - black kale, romaine, green beans, toasted rice with lime-coconut dressing, 'Tack-Tack' - house fermented tortillas filled with choices of piri-piri spiced fish, pickled cucumber and avocado or rotisserie chicken, mole, pickled red onions, lettuce and cilantro, and on the sweet side, 'The Sweet Dog' - inspired by the traditional Swedish dessert of brioche, almond paste and whipped cream.

Although the blend of cross-cultural cuisines from Ethiopia, Sweden and Harlem are an integral part of the joint, there's thoughtful attention to detail given the atmosphere as it drips in art, music and culture artifacts relevant to the times. 

From counters lined in dominoes, to the repurposed Harlem church pews that don designer label cloths and West African fabrics, the ever evolving mix of culture is visible from the signage to the authentic subway tile flooring. 

The ambiance calls to the comforts of a Sunday cookout and familiarity of a neighborhood block party with an open kitchenette. Before it's served on the plate guests are able to see their food come together and their birds roast fully. 

Samuelsson envisioned a New York during the late 70s - early 90s and brought it back with original graffiti pieces by Def Jam Recording's Creative Director, Cey Adams, and vintage photo displays by renowned photographer Janette Beckman. Images of Coney Island in 1986 on the wall, a floor based art installation by Anthony Vasquez and boomboxes loaded with audio are added features to the space.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Glimpses of Hip-Hop's firsts at the Museum of the City of NY

The Mash-up: Run DMC by Janette Beckman & Queen Andrea

It was a time when rappers, MCs, graffiti artists, b-boys and b-girls ran the city streets. The boroughs overflowed with a mix of vibrant color and raw grit, peaking the senses while drawing all around closer.

There began the story of hip-hop, a movement that started out in the parks and spread to become an expressive culture full of heart.
Today marked the opening of the Museum of the City of New York’s latest exhibit, Hip-Hop Revolution. Detailed with photographs, preserved memorabilia and listening stations, the collective display joins together the work of Janette Beckman, Joe Conzo and Martha Cooper - each who have varying ties to the city, but share in capturing the essence of hip-hop at its origin.

The work features over 100 images of icons and pioneers during 1977-1990, and chronicles its development which continues to impact style and music for decades to come. 

“Everything was happening all around me and it kind of swept me up,” said Beckman, of London, who began living downtown in 1982.

Upon arriving New York, she completed work for The Police, The Clash, The Sex Pistols and Boy George. British punk, Mod and 2 Tone were her background, but that changed after being exposed to the underground hip-hop scene that acquainted her with Run DMC, Salt-n-Pepa, Eric B. & Rakim and Afrika Bambaata, to name a few.

“To me hip hop and punk are very similar,” said Beckman. It was adversity and the lack of opportunity that she saw give way to a distinct creativity and innovative spirit reflected in the style, skills, storytelling and culture of hip-hop.

Her work was deemed too raw for many record labels she applied to jobs initially for, but that natural state depicted the reality of the times. “There were no stylists or hair and makeup people on most of these shoots,” said Beckman.

Joe Conzo's photos including the Cold Crush Brothers
For photographer and Bronx native, Joe Conzo, he said the premise of stylistic and skill based competition also fueled the hype and lead to constant improvement and innovation within the evolving genre.

“Who could wear the flyest clothes, cleanest sneakers, the dopest haircut, the dopest shirts, this that and the other,” Conzo said.

He was witness to a Bronx in shaky times, but the mentality was never being in a state of ‘without,’ but was about creating and reinventing with what resources were available. Hip-hop became a socio-cultural movement and the lens was his way of preserving the life within his community and experiences with his peers.

He painted a picture of the South Bronx, where a walk down the street was filled with the aroma of either cuchifritos or veal parmesan in the air, and down the corner across the street would be rhythms from the congeros. The mixture of music, which also melded with the close of disco, and height of crews such as the Cold Crush Brothers and the Rock Steady Crew are what revolutionized the scene entirely.

Today Conzo’s work is archived at Cornell University’s Hip-Hop Collection, which involves the digitization of over 10,000 photos, but to him those days in the Bronx were as fresh as yesterday.

“You just walked to school and it was just a different cast of characters where ever you walked,” said Conzo. “The Bronx is considered a rainbow and it was just a phenomenal time.”

Frosty Freeze (Rock Steady Crew) by Martha Cooper
Martha Cooper, of Rhode Island, started her work in the late 1970's as a staff photographer for the New York Post and is respected as veteran documentary photographer of urban scenes. 

Her images of street art and b-boys were proof to the outside world that there was something significant to her initial interest that soon grew into a dedicated passion. Cooper captured the makings of Wild Style and Style Wars just as it explode on the scene. The dance of breaking was unlike any choreographed before and her efforts pitching the ideas to editors was the beginning of greater coverage.

Cooper, who has been featured in National Geographic to Vibe, published books throughout the years portraying the expansive movement and evolution of hip-hop. Her rare images include that of the Rock Steady Crew, Keith Haring, Fab 5 Freddy, Crazy Legs and the Dynamic Rockers.

Hip-Hop Revolution is a follow-up of the museum’s 2014 City as a Canvas exhibition on graffiti art and runs until Sept. 15.