How the Block Party Became an Urban Phenomenon

On
the
night
of
August
11,
1973,
Cindy
Campbell
became
the

First
Lady
and
Mother
of
Hip-Hop
.
It
all
started
in
the
recreation
room
she
rented
inside
of
her
apartment
block
at
1520
Sedgwick
Avenue
in
the
West
Bronx,
New
York.

Campbell
and
her
brother,
Clive,
an
aspiring
disc
jockey
going
by
the
name
DJ
Kool
Herc,
threw
a “Back-to-School
Jam

that
lasted
into
the
early
morning.
The
party’s
purpose
was
to
help
Campbell
raise
funds
for
the
purchase
of
a
“fresh”
back-to-school
wardrobe.
By
the
night’s
end
the
brother
and
sister
duo
had
grossed
$300
after
charging
an

entry
fee
of
25
cents
for
the
ladies
and
50
cents
for
the
fellas
.

The
indoor
space,
which
held
only
enough
room
for
a
few
hundred
people,
was
packed
tight
with
high
school
kids
entranced
by
the
soul
and
funk
mixes
Herc
played
over
his
Kingston,
Jamaican-style
sound
system.

Cindy Campbell and Kool Herc, Central Park
Musicians
Cindy
Campbell
and
DJ
Kool
Herc
take
center
stage
in
a
2013
celebration
of
the
40th
anniversary
of
hip-hop.
The
brother
and
sister
duo
threw
a “Back-to
School
Jam”
in
August,
1973
and
launched
a
lasting
music
genre.

Jack
Vartoogian,
Getty
Images

The
dance
eventually
poured
outdoors
into
the
neighboring

Cedar
Playground

and
that
night
when
the
music
genre
hip-hop
was
born,
simultaneously
the
historical
jam
session
became
the
first
in
a
series
of
popular
block
parties.

By
the
following
summer,
Herc,
the
burgeoning
DJ
from
Jamaica,
who
owned
the
loudest
sound
system
in
the
neighborhood,
had
garnered
fame
and
a
local
and
loyal
following.
So
Herc
decided
to
headline
a
free
party
on
the
block.

“After
the
block
party,
we
couldn’t
come
back
to
the
rec
room,”
Herc
explained
to
Jeff
Chang,
author
of
the
award-winning
2005
book,


Can’t
Stop
Won’t
Stop:
A
History
of
the
Hip-Hop
Generation
.

This
Saturday,
August
13,
the
Smithsonian’s

National
Museum
of
African
American
History
and
Culture

(NMAAHC)
pays
homage
to
the
famous
rec
room
jam
session
with
its
own
star-studded
“Hip-Hop
Block
Party.”
The
event
celebrates
the
one-year
anniversary
of
the
debut
of
the

Smithsonian
Anthology
of
Hip-Hop
and
Rap
,
a
multimedia
collection
exploring
the
genre’s
national
and
worldwide
influence
stemming
from
its
early
days
in
the
parks
of
New
York
City.

Dwandalyn
Reece,
the
museum’s
associate
director
for
curatorial
affairs,
says
the
history
of
block
parties
as
an
urban
phenomenon
began
in
Black
neighborhoods
as
a
tool
to
bring
people
together.

“That
spirit
of
community,
which
we
all
talk
about
as
the
roots
of
hip-hop,
really
originates
in
that
block
party
concept,”
says
Reece,
who
defines
block
parties
as
a
“community
gathering
where
people
come
together
to
hangout,
to
talk,
to
celebrate,
and
just
have
fun
together.”

2 Live Crew Fans in Miami, Florida
Photographer
Al
Pereira
captures
the
crowd
response,
fans
of
2
Live
Crew
performing
in
Miami,
Florida,
in
an
image
preserved
in
the
collections
of
the
National
Museum
of
African
American
History
and
Culture.

NMAAHC,
photo
by
Al
Pereira,
©
Al
Pereira


A
cultural
expression
of
solidarity

In
the
1960s,
New
York
City’s
northern-most
borough
was
recovering
from
the
devastating
effects
of
city
planner
Robert
Moses’
Urban
Renewal
project,
which
had
condemned
and
then
destroyed
a
vast
swath
of
neighborhoods
to
make
way
for
the
construction
of
the
Cross-Bronx
Expressway.
The
communities
calling
the
area
home
experienced

almost
complete
obliteration
in
1955

as
apartment
buildings,
homes
and
businesses
were
demolished.
The
vacant
lots,
abandoned
apartment
buildings,
and
mass
displacement
paved
the
way
for
poverty,
gang
violence,
turf
wars,
drugs
and
arson.

“Post
1968
and
all
the
advances
of
the
civil
rights
movement,”
says
Reece,
“but
there
was
still
a
lot
of
urban
poverty
and
disenfranchisement
in
the
communities.”
The
South
Bronx
had
been
home
to
a
lot
of
communities
and
people
of
color,
Latinx,
Caribbean,
African
Americans,
she
points
out.
“So
the
South
Bronx
was
one
of
those
centers
where
poverty
and
disenfranchisement
loomed
really
large,
and
there
was
also
a
proliferation
of
gangs.”

Chang
richly
details
the
turf
warfare
and
gang
violence
that
eventually
culminated
in
the
death
of
the
25-year-old
peace
counselor,
Cornell
“Black
Benjie”
Benjamin.
Cornell,
a
leader
of
the
powerful
predominantly
Puerto
Rican
Ghetto
Brothers
gang,
was
appointed
as
the
third
staff
leader
to
head
up
what
the
vice
president,
Benjy
“Yellow
Benjy”
Melendez,
named
the
South
Bronx
Defensive
Unit.


Can’t
Stop
Won’t
Stop
:
A
History
of
the
Hip
Hop
Generation


Can’t
Stop
Won’t
Stop

chronicles
the
events,
the
ideas,
the
music,
and
the
art
that
marked
the
hip-hop
generation’s
rise
from
the
ashes
of
the
60’s
into
the
new
millennium.
Here
is
a
powerful
cultural
and
social
history
of
the
end
of
the
American
century,
and
a
provocative
look
into
the
new
world
that
the
hip-hop
generation
created.

Under
the
leadership
of
Benjy,
the
neighborhood
gang
was
transforming
into
a
community
organization
that
spoke
out
against
the
area’s
poor
healthcare
system,
and
hosted
local
clothing
and
food
drives.
Benjy
had
a
passion
for
community
service,
but
since
his
real
love
was
music,
he
also
served
as
the
leader
of
the
Ghetto
Brothers’
Latin-rock
band.
Cornell’s
death,
a
horrific
beating
as
he
tried
to
negotiate
a
gang
truce,
was
pivotal
to
a
reconciliation
and
peace
treaty
that
the
Ghetto
Brothers,
negotiated,
declaring:
“If
we
are
to
build
up
our
community
to
be
a
better
place
for
our
families
and
ourselves
we
must
work
together.”

The
Ghetto
Brothers
band
played
their
Latin-funk
in
neighborhoods
on
the
streets,
tapping
into
city
lampposts
to
power
their
amps
and
issuing
invitations
to
all
the
gangs
to
join
in,
redirecting
their
frustrations
of
marginalization
by
creating
music
that
everyone
could
groove
together
to
at
their
Friday
block
parties.

“Youthful
energies
turned
from
nihilistic
implosion
to
creative
explosion,”
wrote
Chang.

“Gangs
were
dissolving.
The
new
kids
coming
up
were
obsessed
with
flash,
style,

sabor
,”
he
wrote.

For
them,
the
block
party—not
the
political
party—was
the
space
of
possibility.”

Kid Freeze, Dynamic Rockers and Lucky, Zulu Nation
A
1998
photograph
by
Jamel
Shabazz
from
the
collections
of
the
National
Museum
of
African
American
History
and
Culture
depicts
Kid
Freez,
left,
of
the
b-boy
group
Dynamic
Rockers
and
Lucky
of
the
hip-hop
group
Zulu
Nation. 

NMAAHC,
Smithsonian
Latino
Initiatives
Pool,
administered
by
the
Smithsonian
Latino
Center,
©
Jamel
Shabazz
Boom box, Chuck D
On
view
in
the
exhibition, “Musical
Crossroads,”
at
the
National
Museum
of
African
American
History
and
Culture
is
the
boombox
owned
by
Public
Enemy’s
Chuck
D.

NMAAHC,
gift
of
Public
Enemy


Cheryl
Keyes
,
African
American
studies
department
chair
at
the
University
of
California,
Los
Angeles,
and
one
of
the
dozens
of
historians
and
musicians
working
as
advisors
to
the
Smithsonian’s
hip-hop
anthology
project,
says
she
wants
people
to
understand
that
the
emergence
of
the
genre
in
the
1970s
was
all
about
unity.

“This
was
a
beautiful
time
and
I
hope
that
people
understand
with
hip-hop,
really
its
main
purpose
was
to
bring
folks
together.
And
the
block
party
happens
to
be
one
of
the
platforms
to
do
this,”
Keyes
says.

Keyes
recalls
that
growing
up
in
Baton
Rouge,
Louisiana,
she
didn’t
experience
block
parties
in
her
town.
Instead,
she
discovered
them
in
1986
when
she
started
completing
field
research
on
the
origins
of
Black
Atlantic
music
and
the
verbal
traditions
of
rap
music.
She
learned
that
these
urban
gatherings
served
as
outdoor
conservatories
for
rookie
DJs
to
practice
their
skills
and
promote
new
music
in
a
safe
space
that
welcomed
all
ages.

Keyes,
who
is
the
author
of
the
first
history
of
rap
music,


Rap
Music
and
Street
Consciousness
,
says
DJ’s
she
met
during
her
New
York
field
research
also
told
her
that
block
parties
became
a
strategy
for
controlling
the
crowd.

“Some
of
the
mobile
DJs,
the
disc
jockeys,
would
set
up
their
sound
systems
somewhere
where
you
could
hear
it
blasting
bringing
the
people
together.
And
as
the
DJs
would
tell
me,”
she
says:
“‘This
ain’t
the
club,’
because
a
lot
of
the
gang
violence
took
place
in
the
club,
‘but
we
take
it
on
the
outdoors.
Where
everybody
can
be
a
part
of
this
celebration
of
life
on
this
particular
hot
day.’”

Count Basie's Block Party
In
the
1943
film

Top
Man
,
Count
Basie
and
his
band
perform
at
the
Harlem
block
party.

Bettman,
Getty
Images


Block
parties
before
hip-hop

Although
the
geography
of
New
York
City’s

120,000
blocks

makes
it
a
prime
place
for
an
impromptu
street
party,
these
sorts
of
social
events
can
be
seen
across
America
in
urban
cities
like
Denver,
Philadelphia,
Detroit,
Chicago,
Atlanta
and
Los
Angeles.

The
age-old
Black
tradition
of
meeting
outdoors
for
fun,
fellowship,
food and
music
is
a
rooted
in
history
of
the

Great
Migration
.
Between
the
1910s
and
1970s,
an
estimated
six
million
African
Americans
left
the
racial
violence
of
the
Jim
Crow
south,
traveling
to
northern,
midwestern,
and
western
states
in
search
of
better
educational
and
employment
opportunities
for
their
families.

As
Black
soldiers
returned
from
World
War
I,
they
also
settled
in
Northern
urban
environments.

Fath
Ruffins
,
a
curator
of
African
American
history
and
culture
at
the
Smithsonian’s

National
Museum
of
American
History
,
says
this
launched
the
renaissance
of
a
new
Black
working
class
culture.

“This
is
the
era
in
which
jazz
is
becoming
a
national
and
international
music.
This
is
the
era
in
which
a
lot
of
Black
firsts
are
being
made,
new
Black
newspapers
are
being
established,”
Ruffins
says.
“In
urban
areas,
particularly
where
Black
people
could
control,
or
could
dominate
segments…it’s
in
that
context
that
you
begin
to
have

rent
parties

and
block
parties,
because
you
have
to
have
some
density
in
the
block
to
have
a
block
party.”

In
the
early
20th
century,
block
and
neighborhood
parties,
usually
informal
and
free
to
attend,
may
have
been
hosted
by
the
local
church.
Sometimes
goods
and
treats
were
sold
to
raise
funds
for
community
initiatives.
In
the
1950s
before
the
wide
availability
of
recorded
tracks,
a
street
party
was
a
place
to
hear
live
musical
performances.

According
to
Ruffins,
as
Black
populations
increased
in
cities
the
social
events
became
more
structured,
with
municipalities
sometimes
requiring
a

city
permi
t.


A
new
age
of
street
parties

Overtime
spontaneous
dance
parties
evolved
taking
on
the
modern-day
appearance
of
large
city-wide
festivals.

“Of
course,
today
there
are
still
block
parties,”
says
Ruffins,
pointing
to
the
small
gatherings
that
connect
neighbors
from
one
city
block
or
another.
“But
you
also
have
these
larger
festivals
going
on
and,
this
hip-hop
party
that
NMAAHC
is
throwing
is
very
consciously
referring
to
the
kind
of
block
parties
of
the
90s,
and
80s
because
early
hip-hop
music
is
a
lot
based
on
neighborhood,”
she
says.
“DJs
and
groups,
it’s
almost
analogous
to
the
rock
band
in
the
garage.
There
are
a
lot
of
young
rappers,
and
DJs,
and
dancers
who
move
out
of
the
parties
at
night
that
they’re
having
into
these
kind
of
block
parties.”

Herbert
Holler,
the
founder
of

The
Freedom
Party
,
the
longest
running
block
party
in
New
York
City
history,
predicts
America
will
see
more
block
parties
in
the
future.

Holler
has
spent
nearly
two
decades
hosting
parties
across
the
U.S.
in
places
like,
Chicago,
Los
Angeles,
Philadelphia,
Atlanta,
Washington,
D.C.
and
Cleveland.
His
years
of
music
experience
in
the
party
planning
and
promoting
field
have
included
a
recent
event
at
The
Universal
Hip
Hop
Museum
in
New
York
set
to

fully
open
in
2024
.
“I
think
that
this
summer
I’ve
seen
more
block
parties
than
I’ve
ever
seen…I
mean,
there’s
a
ton.
Every
time
I
look
on
social
media,
I
see
footage
from
some
outdoor
event,
be
it
in
a
park
or
on
the
block
or
something
like
that,”
he
says.

“A
true
distilled
spontaneity
is
just
arriving
in
a
park
with
speakers
and
pushing
play
on
your
music
and
seeing
what
happens.
I
don’t
know
if
that
happens
anymore,”
Holler
says,
but
he
points
out
that
today’s
spontaneous
gatherings
are
made
easier
with
the
rise
of
social
media
and
much
more
desirable
after
the
confines
of
the
pandemic.

However,
the
original
message
and
community
sense
of
what
he
describes
as
the
“purest
form
of
gathering
socially
with
music”
remains.
“I
mean,
things
are
changing,
but
the
spirit
of
the
block
party
is
still
the
same.
Like
there’s
food,
there’s
music,
there’s
family.”



Livestream
performances
and
activities


from
the
mainstage
of
the
Smithsonian’s
Hip-Hop
Block
Party,
Saturday,
August
13,
7
p.m.,
EST.

Artikel ini diambil dari https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/how-the-block-party-became-an-urban-phenomenon-180980560/

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