Other honorees included Joe Conzo, Grand Wizard Theodore, Cutman LG, Rocky Bucano, Grandmaster Caz, Jorge Fabel Pabon, Pete “DJ” Jones and Kurtis Blow. Councilman Fernando Cabrera said it was "truly an honor to stand here" with the hip hop legends.
The City Council on Wednesday finally got some street cred by opening its doors to some old school rappers.
Afrika Bambaataa, Grandmaster Melle Mel and other founding fathers of rap turned out for the Council meeting, where they were honored with proclamations celebrating their role in launching a “global cultural revolution.”
For a few minutes, Council members acted like giddy fans, crowding around their guests and jockeying to take pictures, which several lawmakers quickly tweeted.
“It is truly an honor to stand here,” said Councilman Fernando Cabrera (D-Bronx), who organized the ceremony.
In addition to Bambaataa and Melle Mell, the Council honored Joe Conzo, Grand Wizard Theodore, Cutman LG, Rocky Bucano, Grandmaster Caz, Jorge Fabel Pabon, Pete “DJ” Jones and Kurtis Blow, the first rapper to sign with a major record label.
All attended except for Jones, who died in January, and Blow.
"New York City is more than 8 million rhythms strong, but for nearly 40 years a completely unique rhythm has galvanized into a signature style known as hip hop,” the proclamations said.
“Since its birth in the South Bronx in the 1970s, hip hop has given those living in neighborhoods with abandoned building, crime, and poverty a means of escape. Today hip hop is an international multi billion dollar phenomenon that encompasses much more than music.”
The honorees seemed to enjoy the ceremony, and a few marked the moment by reciting a rap that recalled the history of hip hop.
“We’ve been here for 40 years, and we’re still going strong,” Grandmaster Melle Mel said in more formal remarks.
“We’ve been doing it for so long, and we did it for nothing. There wasn’t no money. And we gave all we had, you know what I mean, we laid it down.”
He later said today’s hip hop doesn’t hold a candle to the early days.
“They promote that image like there’s something cute about standing on the street selling drugs,” he said. “They make these guys out like a hero. Would you want one of those guys dating your daughter? No!”
Cabrera and the rappers said they would like to see a hip hop museum included in the Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx. The building is set to be turned into a massive ice-skating center which will include some community space that has yet to be allocated.
“This museum is so important so that people coming up can understand the roots of hip hip,” said Councilman Jumaane Williams (D-Brooklyn). “Understand the power of the community. That’s what hip hop means to me.”