On Thursday (May 20), the official groundbreaking ceremony for the Bronx’s forthcoming Universal Hip Hop Museum was held. As ABC 7 reported, the event — which took place along the Harlem River — saw a slew of rappers, including Nas, Lil Kim and LL Cool J, come together to celebrate the moment and share a few words about their relationship with hip hop.
“Hip hop made me believe that anything was possible. It was the first time that I heard, you know, young Black men sound empowered,” LL said when explaining the role hip hop played in his life. “Most of the time when I saw young Black men, they were, like, putting their heads down being put in a police car…This was, like, the first time where I felt like, ‘Wow. It’s possible to be powerful. It’s possible to be somebody.’”
“It taught me more than schools taught me,” Nas said of hip hop’s influence on his life. “I’m proud to be here in the mecca of hip hop, the Bronx.”
Fat Joe, Grandmaster Flash and Naughty By Nature were also in attendance.
The Universal Hip Hop Museum — which is set to open in 2024 — is the “cultural anchor” of the $349 million Bronx Point development that will offer affordable housing in the Lower Concourse neighborhood as well as 2.8 acres of open public space. Other cultural and community-focused programming, like an early childhood space, educational resources, outdoor science programming and workforce development, will also be provided.
“Hip hop is the most popular art form in the entire world, which is now getting ready to celebrate its 48th anniversary this year,” Rocky Bucano, the museum’s founder and executive director, told The New York Post. “And it’s almost sacrilegious that a creative art form doesn’t have its own place where the history can be preserved to celebrate. This museum will serve as the home of hip-hop history and culture for the world.”
“We’re excited,” he continued. “Hip hop has always had an innovative spirit, and the museum will continue in that creative fashion that hip hop is known for.”