New York City spares the birthplace of Hip Hop

Pax Arcana

A few weeks back, the beastly brains over at Perk is a Beast took sportswriter Bill Simmons to task for his comically short-sighted paragraph on the paragons of Hip Hop history. Though he relented in later writings, Simmons’ major oversight was not including the actual founders of what would become Hip Hop, including, as one Perk boy (hard to tell them apart, so we’re not sure which one) aptly pointed out — DJ Kool Herc.

herc.jpgPerk is a Beast gained an ally in the fight for recognition last week in the form of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development — which blocked the sale of the housing project where Herc invented break beats:

The letter represents the first time that the department has rejected the sale of a building under the Mitchell-Lama affordable housing program for financial reasons, government officials said. The sale price, which housing advocates said significantly exceeded the assessed value of $7.5 million, alarmed the community because it seemed likely that the prospective buyer would have taken the building out of the program, opening the way to higher rents.

Housing advocates hope the city’s decision will reduce speculative sales and gentrification of other buildings constructed under the state’s Mitchell-Lama housing program, which offered developers low-interest mortgages and tax abatements in return for caps on rents.

Many of the people who still live in the housing project were around when Herc first brought his dual turn-table system into the community room, spinning the instrumental interludes from pop songs together into extended dance tracks. Eventually MC’s would lay down spoken word vocal tracks over these beats to form rap. Then Aaron Carter rapped about eating cake at his birthday party and white people started shopping for real estate in Utah.

Anyway, here’s a neat little video from a British documentary about Herc (HT: Gawker):

City Rejects Sale of Building Seen as Hip-Hop’s Birthplace [New York Times]


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