HipHop News

The city's first hip hop museum headed to Harlem next year

This is truly a rapper’s delight.

The Hip Hop Hall of Fame Museum, which will be the city’s first institution focused on the popular music genre, is headed for midtown and Harlem.

It will feature memorabilia items such as jackets, turntables and posters donated by artists like Run-DMC, Salt-N-Pepa, Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, Outkast, Young Jeezy, Common, Eminem, Grandmaster Flash and Afrika Bambaataam, according to the museum’s organizer.

“This will be the home of hip hop history,” said JT Thompson, who produced BET’s one-time Hip Hop Hall of Fame Awards show in the 90s.

“People need to understand the importance of hip hop, the elements, the DJs, the B-boys and B-girls and the graffiti writers,” he added.

The Harlem site on 125th St. will include a 12,000-square-foot museum space, a coffee and juice bar, shops and a TV studio.

It will also serve 50 children annually through its youth media program, Thompson said.

The museum’s midtown location, which will be located near Times Square, will boast similar amenities in its 50,000-square-foot space — in addition to 90-minute tours and an interactive exhibit for fans.

The total project costs nearly $80 million, Thompson said.

About $50 million has already been raised, and an Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign has been launched to collect $500,000 more, he added.

Organizers hope to break ground in the summer of 2015 and open the museum to the public in 2017.

The “Four Fathers” of hip hop — Afrika Bambaataa, Grand Wizzard Theodore, Grandmaster Melle Mel and Grandmaster Caz Brown — had pushed for the city’s first hip hop museum to be based in the Bronx, the birth place of hip hop.

Organizers were initially eyeing the Kingsbridge Armory, which will be turned into a national ice skating center in 2017.

Bambaataa did not immediately return requests for comment.

There is also another project being pushed by Craig Wilson, co-founder of the National Museum of Hip-Hop, who told the New York Times in March he was working on a deal to open a space in Harlem.

Thompson, who grew up listening to Run-DMC and underground artists Derelict Camp, had envisioned opening a hip hop museum in 1992, using funding generated from BET’s Hip Hop Hall of Fame Awards show.

But his plans were put on hold in 1996 when the urban genre took a hit — and the network backed off the series — after the death of rapper Tupac Shakur.

The legendary rapper was killed in a drive-boy shooting in Las Vegas. He was 25.

“It’s really important to honor the culture of hip hop,” said Kenny Syder, co-chair of the museum’s entertainment committee.

“Hip hop got a bad rep,” he said. “With this museum, it’s important to sit on the other side of it.”


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