Nas, Lil Kim and more icons attend groundbreaking of Bronx hip-hop museum

The museum's part of a $349 million mixed-use project being built along the Harlem River waterfront in the Bronx.

Years in the making, the Universal Hip-Hop Museum is getting closer to physical reality. Several hip-hop legends attended the groundbreaking at the site of the permanent home of the museum yesterday. 

Nas, LL Cool J, Fat Joe, Lil Kim, Naughty by Nature, Grandmaster Flash, Slick Rick and EMPD were all in attendance, joined by Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, New York City Councilwoman Diana Ayala and other local officials, including Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. 

UHHM’s Rocky Bucano, rappers Nas, LL Cool J and Fat Joe, New York City Councilwoman Diana Ayala, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and a host of others help break ground at the site of the Universal Hip-Hop Museum Thursday in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)

The museum is part of a $349 million mixed-use project being built along the Harlem River waterfront in the South Bronx called Bronx Point. The first phase of the project will feature 542 units of permanently affordable housing and 2.8 acres of public open space. 

The UHHM will be part of an array of culture and community-focused programming, an early childhood space and outdoor science programming. 

“It’s going to be a global destination,” Diaz said. “It’s going to be an economic engine.” 

Chuck D of Public Enemy greets a friend at the Universal Hip-Hop Museum’s groundbreaking ceremony Thursday in New York City. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)

“Hip-hop is one of those things that really gave my life meaning,” rapper-TV star LL Cool J — who is among the artists set to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year — said Thursday at the space groundbreaking. “It made me feel like I really could do something with my life.”

The son of jazz musician Olu Dara, rapper-slash-entrepreneur Nas — who, this year, won his first Grammy Award since the start of his illustrious 30-year career — said of hip-hop that “it taught me more than schools taught me, believe it or not. I’m proud to be here in the mecca of hip-hop, the Bronx.” 

Anchored in the birthplace of the culture, the Universal Hip-Hop Museum celebrates and preserves the ultra-rich history of local and global hip-hop to help educate, inspire, empower and promote understanding.

Rappers-entrepreneurs Nas (left) and LL Cool J (right) share a moment at Thursday’s Universal Hip-Hop Museum groundbreaking ceremony in New York City. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)

The museum’s journey to fruition began a decade ago with the vision of Rocky Bucano, its determined founder, and a small group of supporters. Crowdfunding has been instrumental in the museum’s growth, as well as investment from several real estate investors and the New York City Economic Development Corporation.

The UHHM will feature tens of thousands of hip-hop artifacts collected from artists and connoisseurs of hip-hop music, dance and art. Currently, more than 30,000 objects are being held in the temporary gallery at Bronx Terminal Market. The collection will be available for public viewing in the fall of 2021.

The museum’s official Twitter page also shared this week that Microsoft will be its official technology partner.

Read More: A Soul Prophecy: How ‘What’s Going On’ still, sadly, resonates 50 years later

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio saluted the hip-hop legends in attendance at Thursday’s event, saying, “We need to say that this history is our history. We did something here. You did something here no one else created.”

One hip-hop fan and policy advocate shared on Twitter that while the UHHM is an exciting contribution to the preservation of hip-hop culture, for her, “It’s the creation of permanent affordable housing, pub green space, and the preservation of culture that makes these types of development projects special. Lots of strategic partnerships to make this happen.”

For more information on the Universal Hip-Hop Museum or to contribute, please visit its website

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