Hip Hop Museum takes shape in NYC

Bronx, New York - The Universal Hip Hop Museum is a step closer to opening its doors in New York following a so-called "topping off" ceremony marking the completion of the Bronx building's structure.

Bronx officials celebrated the Universal Hip Hop Museum's topping off ceremony on Thursday (l.), which saw the building's structure completed (r.).
Bronx officials celebrated the Universal Hip Hop Museum's topping off ceremony on Thursday (l.), which saw the building's structure completed (r.).  © Collage: Twitter/Vanessalgibson & uhhmuseum

The museum, set to open in 2024 and house around 550 affordable housing apartments in the same building, plans to pay tribute to the genre which music historians say can be traced back to the surrounding music scene of the Bronx in the 1970s.

The breakthrough came when New York musicians like DJ Kool Herc began playing instrumental sections between vocals on vinyl records, and then adding spoken word vocals on top.

Half a century after its origins in the Bronx, hip hop, one of the most widespread musical styles of all, is set to be celebrated in its various facets in the planned museum.

"This is another milestone for hip hop," museum director Rocky Bucano said at the ceremony on Thursday, which comes after stars like Nas, LL Cool J, and Grandmaster Flash last year laid the foundation stone for the building.

"Today’s Topping Off Ceremony of the future Universal Hip-Hop Museum is a culmination of hard work, collaboration and a labor of love," tweeted Bronx Borough President Vanessa L. Gibson.

Universal Hip Hop Museum will bring an epic exhibition to the Bronx

In May 2021, the Universal Hip Hop Museum's executive director Rocky Bucano (l.), kicked off a groundbreaking ceremony (from l. to r.) with Nas, LL Cool J, and Fat Joe in Bronx Point.
In May 2021, the Universal Hip Hop Museum's executive director Rocky Bucano (l.), kicked off a groundbreaking ceremony (from l. to r.) with Nas, LL Cool J, and Fat Joe in Bronx Point.  © DIA DIPASUPIL / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / GETTY IMAGES VIA AFP

The construction of the museum's exhibition hall is set to cost around $80 million.

Former borough president Ruben Diaz said the Hip Hop Museum belonged here in the Bronx: "If you love Hip Hop, this must be a dream come true."

The Universal Hip Hop Museum said its curators are currently processing some 30,000 objects, from artist badges and cassette tapes to street art and photos, set to go on display at the museum.

It will feature guided tours, events, and a store with apparel.

"Anchored in the birthplace of the culture, the Universal Hip Hop Museum in the Bronx celebrates and preserves the history of local and global hip hop to inspire, empower, and promote understanding," its mission statement says.

Cover photo: Collage: Twitter/Vanessalgibson & uhhmuseum

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