14 ways to celebrate hip-hop’s 50th anniversary in NYC

July 31, 2023

Photo of Big Pun mural in the Bronx by Nicholas Knight

On August 11, 1973, when DJing his sister’s back-to-school party at an apartment building in the Bronx, DJ Kool Herc tried something new on the turntables, switching back and forth repeatedly between the same record. The pioneering technique, now known as the breakbeat, led to the creation of hip-hop. Now 50 years later, the genre has become a cultural phenomenon beyond music. As the birthplace of hip-hop, New York City has a ton in store for the genre’s 50th anniversary, from massive concerts and block parties to immersive art and film screenings.

Uptown Bounce 2023
1220 Fifth Avenue, Manhattan
Thursday, August 3 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Hosted at the El Museo del Barrio and the Museum of the City of New York, Uptown Bounce is a series of three, free block parties featuring live DJs, special guests, live performances, arts and crafts activities, and much more. Presented by El Museo del Barrio, the Museum of the City of New York, and The Africa Center, this year marks the 10th anniversary of Uptown Bounce. Don’t miss out on this exciting event series. You can RSVP for one of the events here.

Photo courtesy of Mark Zhelezoglo for Hall des Lumières

Hip Hop Til Infinity
Hall des Lumières, 49 Chambers Street, Manhattan
Wednesday, July 26 through Sunday, September 17
The Hall des Lumières is hosting an immersive visual journey through 50 years of hip-hop. Co-produced by global entertainment company Mass Appeal and hybrid creative studio SUPERBIEN, the exciting experience takes guests through the genre’s different eras and regions with a state-of-the-art audio and visual technology system. The exhibition will feature interactive programming, virtual concerts, live panel conversations, listening parties, artist meet & greets, and more. Tickets can be purchased here.

Real Rap: Hip-Hop Star Power on Screen
Museum of the Moving Image, 36-01 35th Avenue, Queens

Friday, July 28 through Saturday, October 21
Astoria’s Museum of the Moving Image is hosting Real Rap: Hip-Hop Star Power on Screen, a screening series of films that focuses on hip-hop artists that have appeared in cinema, featuring action blockbusters, comedies, and dramas from the 1990s to the 2000s. These performers helped define pop culture and transcended music to help redefine movie stardom. The series will include discussions, a spoken word showcase, and a summer dance party.

Birth of a Culture: The 4 Elements Block Party
Crotona Park, 1700 Crotona Avenue, The Bronx
Friday, August 4 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Grandmaster Flash, one of hip-hop’s founding fathers, is returning to the Bronx’s Crotona Park to celebrate the genre he helped create. Flash is known for his technical use of the turntables and for using innovative techniques that opened the doors for future generations of musical creativity. Joining Flash will be a cast of artists responsible for the genre’s growth, including Jazzy Jay, DJ Charlie Chase, and Pete Rock. Grand Wizzard Theodore, Tony Touch, Stretch Armstrong, and more. The free event will also feature live graffiti art by artist James Top. The event will also be live-streamed on Grandmaster Flash’s Youtube and Twitch channels.

Image courtesy of Rock The Bells

Rock the Bells Festival
Forest Hills Stadium, 1 Tennis Place, Queens
Saturday, August 5 at 1 p.m.
The Rock The Bells Festival is returning to Forest Hills Stadium after a sold-out event last year. Curated by LL Cool J, founder of Rock The Bells, this year’s event is particularly special as it celebrates the 50th anniversary of hip-hop. The lineup for this year’s festival includes Queen Latifah, Monie Love, Ludacris, De La Soul, Slick Rick, Rakim, Yo-Yo, Redman and Method Man, Roxanne Shanté, Big Daddy Kane, and more. Rock The Bells was founded in 2018 by LL Cool J, with the goal of focusing on content, experiences, and commerce that honor hip-hop. Tickets start at $91.25 and can be purchased here.

5X5 Block Party Series
Brooklyn, Queens, and The Bronx
August 5, August 6, and August 12 from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Hosted by Mayor Eric Adams in partnership with “ITSALLBLACKMUSIC PRESENTS,” the 5X5 Block Party Series brings free block parties and events across all five boroughs in celebration of hip-hop’s 50th anniversary. The city is collaborating with hip-hop icon KRS-One who will help to curate the events and will perform himself. Special events include a spectacular lineup of DJs, artists, food vendors, interactive experiences, educational talks, and stunning street art. The city is working with Pixis Drones to create a perform a free drone light show at each block party, featuring hip-hop imagery and art.

The block parties will take place at these locations, with more to be announced in the coming days:

Saturday, August 5, 2023
Fulton Street & Washington Avenue

Sunday, August 6, 2023
Vernon Boulevard & 41st Avenue

The Bronx
Saturday, August 12, 2023
1520 Sedgwick Avenue

Summerstage Hip-Hop 50 Special Edition
Coney Island Amphitheater, 3052 West 21st Street, Brooklyn
Sunday, August 6 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Curated by Special Ed, the Brooklyn rapper known for hits like “I Got It Made” and “Think About It,” this SummerStage event features live performances by artists including Buckshot of the group Black Moon, Nice N Smooth, Rah Digga, Rampage, Sweet Tee, MC Sparky D, and more. The event is free to the public.

Hip-Hop Week at Lincoln Center
Lincoln Center, 150 West 65th Street, Manhattan
Wednesday, August 9 through Saturday, August 12
Lincoln Center’s 2023 Summer for the City festival is closing out with a four-day celebration of hip-hop. The series of events will feature live performances and workshops that highlight hip-hop’s immense impact on contemporary art, music, fashion, and culture since it was created in the Bronx in 1973. Hip-Hop Week begins on August 9th with Dance Storytime, a family-friendly activity in the Garden at Damrosch Park led by choreographer TweetBoogie and DJ Go BIZZY! Taking place later that night is We Out Here, a dance battle and silent disco hosted on Lincoln Center’s Dance Floor.

The first night of Hip-Hop Week finishes in Damsroch Park with DJ and producer J.PERIOD’s Live Mixtape: Gods & Kings Edition, a celebratory performance of the genre’s 50th anniversary led by some of NYC’s most legendary artists, including Rakim and Big Daddy Kane.

All Hip-Hop Week events are free, with admission granted on a first-come, first-served basis. More information on Hip-Hop Week can be found here.

Hip-Hop 50 Live at Yankee Stadium
Yankee Stadium, 1 East 161st Street, The Bronx
Friday, August 11 at 4:30 p.m.
Hosted on the exact date of hip-hop’s creation, Hip Hop 50 Live brings some of the world’s greatest hip-hop artists to Yankee Stadium. Taking place in the borough where it all started, the concert will include performances by Run DMC’s “Bottom of the Ninth…The Walk-Off” performance including Lil Wayne, Snoop Dogg, and Ice Cube, and the “Queens of Hip Hop” set featuring Eve, Lil Kim, Remy Ma, Trina, and more. Tickets can be purchased here.

Staten Island Celebrates Hip-Hop’s 50th Anniversary
Stapleton Waterfront Park, Water Street and Navy Pier Court, Staten Island
Friday, August 11 at 5 p.m.
Celebrate hip-hop’s momentous occasion on Staten Island with borough-native and hip-hop legend Raekwon the Chef and friends. Raekwon is best known as a member of the Wu-Tang Clan, whose unique Kung Fu-film-inspired aesthetic, gritty production style, and lyrical genius took them from Staten Island’s Park Hill neighborhood to global fame. Raekwon has invited a few friends to perform, including fellow Staten Island native Tyrone Briggs who will perform will fusion band the Jazztronauts, and Shyheim, an MC that achieved fame at the age of 14 years old with his 1944 LP AKA The Rugged Child. Additional performers include Hole Moe, Eddy I, Frank Nitti, Starda, and WhoIsBravy.

BRIC Hip-Hop Anniversary Weekend
Lena Horne Bandshell, 9th Street & Prospect Park West, Brooklyn
Friday, August 11 through Saturday, August 12 at 7 p.m.
BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! is hosting a special event in celebration of hip-hop’s 50th anniversary. Taking place at the Lena Horne Bandshell in Prospect Park, the event will feature Digable Planets, afro-futurist hip-hop legends who will be celebrating 30 years of their debut album Reachin’ (A New Refutation of Time and Space), and Southern alternative-rap star Kari Faux who will perform songs from her new album REAL B*TCHES DON’T DIE!. Both events are free, and you can RSVP here.

Grand Mixer DST, London 1982. Photo ©Janette Beckman

Hip-Hop at 50 by Janette Beckman
The Seaport, 22 Fulton Street, Manhattan

On view until October 31
Presented as part of the Photoville Festival, this special event highlights images taken by British-born photographer Janette Beckman during the 1980s in NYC, an era considered to be the golden age of hip-hop. After moving to the city in 1983, Beckman photographed rap pioneers, capturing iconic images of Run DMC, GrandMixer DST, Slick Rick, Salt-N-Pepa, Grandmaster Flash, and LL Cool J, all at the beginning of their careers before they secured global fame.

“I was trying to capture a sense of who these artists are and what they mean to the neighborhoods they come from, cars, boom boxes, tagged walls, bodegas, all helping to give a sense of place and time,” Beckman said.

Image courtesy of the Universal Hip Hop Museum

[R]Evolution of Hip-Hop
Bronx Terminal Market, 610 Exterior Street, The Bronx
On view through summer 2023
Hosted by the highly-anticipated Universal Hip Hop Museum, [R]evolution of Hip Hop offers guests an interactive journey through the golden age of hip-hop using artifacts, artificial intelligence, multimedia, and virtual and augmented technologies. The exhibition is being hosted at the Bronx Terminal Market, the temporary residence of the museum until the institution’s massive building is completed in 2024. General admission tickets start at $15 and can be purchased here.

Photo © 6sqft

“The Book of HOV” at the Brooklyn Public Library
Brooklyn Public Library, 10 Grand Army Plaza, Prospect Heights
Through summer 2023
Last week, an installation dedicated to Brooklyn native and hip-hop legend Jay-Z debuted at the Brooklyn Public Library’s Central Library, surprising both New Yorkers and the rapper himself. Titled “The Book of HOV,” the exhibition features art, images, ephemera, and memorabilia from the rapper’s archives that pay tribute to his incredible life and career and highlight the ways he helped redefine hip-hop, music, and culture on a global scale. The experience is free and open to the public.



New York City Tourism + Conventions has launched a website dedicated to the anniversary of hip-hop and the many events, exhibits, and festivals happening across the five boroughs. The guide features an interactive map of experiences taking place in NYC, interviews with local hip-hop experts, and a list of shops, restaurants, tours, and other cultural institutions to check out in commemoration of this movement’s major milestone.

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  1. F

    In your introduction you referred to Newbies and New Yorkers are interested in your publication. You must not forget individuals who no longer live in New York City but still consider us as “Displaced New Yorkers”, but New York is still our Town. We always expect to get back to visit and are familiar with all the growth and constant change in our favorite city.