Raising Kings and Queens of the Hip Hop Generation
by Jon Minners
Hip Hop is not just a genre of music; it is a mixture of music, dance, clothing and written and spoken language. It is a culture - the reason why Hip Hop is capitalized and rap is lower case - and it all came together at Rosedale Big Park so many years ago. And now, it all began again.
DJ Cool Clyde and DJ Lightnin Lance, the first DJs to scratch on record worldwide, who along with Shawn form United We Stand Entertainment, a non-profit organization using Hip Hop as a way of bringing up residents of the Bronx, teamed up with 107.5 WBLS to present the 5th Annual Raising Kings and Queens Family Day event at Rosedale Big Park, between Watson and Gleason avenues, on Sunday, August 14 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
“Hip Hop is often seen as something negative, but it doesn’t have to be,” said Clyde. “Hip Hop has the power to bring people together. It is all-inclusive. It is not about one race or ethnicity. There is a Hip Hop generation out there made up of so many different people; young kids who we have an opportunity to mold into the future leaders of tomorrow.”
Clyde feels that the older generation of Americans ignores the youth and turns a deaf ear on their needs, including the need to learn. “You can’t just tell a kid they don’t know anything about this or that; you need to give them a chance to learn and be open to answer any of their questions,” said Clyde. “We need to encourage their curiosity and help them become better well-rounded individuals. That’s what we were trying to accomplish here. We brought the people out to Rosedale Big Park through the music and the celebrities. That was done to capture their attention, but while they were there, we armed them with information, the tools they need to be healthy and to succeed. You can have fun and also learn.”
Firefighter Phil Scarfi, who led children though a simulated smoke-filled home to teach them about fire safety, was thankful for events like Clyde’s that cater to the neighborhood youth. “We try to take advantage of these kinds of events where we are able to reach a wide number of different people that we may not normally have the chance to reach,” he said. “I encourage similar events. We would be happy to show up and get our message across. We may just save a life.”
The event, which was supported through various means by a number of different organizations, included important information and visits from the Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club, Monroe Campus Leadership Class of James Monroe High School, Community Board 9, Father Timothy Holder of Trinity Episcopal Church/Hip Hop E-Mass Choir, Borough President Adolfo Carrion, Jr. Hip Hop Assemblyman Ruben Diaz, Jr., Councilwoman Annabel Palma, TWU-Local 100 president Roger Toussaint, BRONXNET executive director Michael Knobbe, BronxTalk AM/Prime Time host Gary Axelbank, Luther Gaitling, president of BUCCS Credit Counseling, Parks Department, FDNY and NYPD among others.
Hosted by Dr. Bob Lee of 107.5 WBLS, the event included a basketball tournament with the WBLS Shoreshots, a unicycle show, amateur boxing with five-time world champion Iran “The Blade” Barkley, a Hip Hop fashion show from Gettoe Momz and Paz, a voter registration, credit counseling, free health screenings, free food from Soul Shack, barbecuing and much more.
Clyde also assembled an assortment of talent to perform on stage with acts not necessarily performing rap. “Hip Hop has branched out to include other art forms and also has its roots in previous musical genres,” he sates. “We need to showcase this talent to the people to let them know where they came from and where they are going.”
Bronx Bullies, Jim Jones, BT Express; Dylan of Da Band and Making the Band 2; G-Dep of Bad Boy Entertainment; Grand Puba, Hip Hop Opera Singer Shontaye Rose, various dance troupes, a martial arts exhibition and others, including bands from the world of rock, jazz and others performed throughout the day. Special guests included Wendy Williams of 107.5 WBLS and the legendary Sugarhill Gang.
“I am very happy to be here,” said Williams as she addressed the crowd and hyped up the performances about to make their way to the stage. “This is all about raising our kings and queens. As much as you think that I entertain you, it is you, the people from the Bronx that entertains me. I couldn’t be here without any of you. I love you.”
Holder addressed the crowd, adding some prayer to the hot summer day. “You are beautiful today,” he told the audience. “Hip Hop is beautiful. We are doing some beautiful things in the South Bronx.” Under the “posse of God” Holder than led the community in a Hip Hop prayer where word profoundly replaced amen. While appearing out of the ordinary, the crowd was into the display of religion and Holder reached a new audience that may see God in a new light, just an example of what Clyde hoped to achieve.
Clyde has trouble hiding his pride when discussing the event or its location. “This is the place,” he said. “Back in the day, Disco King Mario, may he rest in peace, was a legend in this park along with Afrika Bambaataa. They would play out there everyday without a permit with some of the largest sound systems. This was before Hip Hop became commercialized. It all started here. This is where the elements of Hip Hop came together; the break dancing, the phat laces, Adidas, graffiti, DJs – this is where it all began.”
Clyde sees that spirit reborn every year at the annual summer mega-event, remembering when it first began and only 500 people showed up to watch performers showcase their talents on the ground, blocked off by ropes. The show has grown, with over 3,000 people attending last year’s event, as performers took to a 20x20 stage with security barricades, more mainstream artists, elected officials and an assortment of sponsors jumping on board. Even more residents braved the heat and occasional rain to attend this year’s event. Next year will even feature a carnival for the children, attracting what Clyde hopes will be an even bigger group of visitors.
“Look at who and what was a part of this lineup,” remarks Clyde. “You have something for everyone. Hip Hop is not about just the music. It’s about uplifting a community. Remember our past. This park brought a community together to do great things. Just from this park alone, Hip Hop became a multi-million dollar industry. Now, from this park, future generations of leaders who will look out for their community; look out for their neighbors and look out for one another will be born.”
For more information on next year’s Hip Hop show and other events sponsored by United We Stand Entertainment, go to www.unitedwestandent.org.
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