Film to Chronicle History of Hip Hop on the Lower East Side

Posted on: August 19th, 2011 at 6:09 am by

When it comes to hip hop history, the South Bronx hogs much of the spotlight. And with good reason. 1520 Sedgwick Avenue was where DJ Kool Herc presided over a series of parties in the early 1970s which helped birth a burgeoning urban musical style. But the Lower East Side deserves some time to shine, as well, and is finally collecting some of its due and proper. The neighborhood was also instrumental in influencing the development of the genre.

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[Photo Credit: The Villager]

As The Villager reports this week:

Two brothers who grew up in the Bernard Baruch Houses project are aiming to bring that untold story to light. Troy and Kevin Harris are currently putting the finishing touches on a new two-part documentary film, “No Place Like Home: The History of Hip Hop in the Lower East Side.”

The film includes footage the brothers shot back in the 1970s and ’80s, as well as recent interviews with former and still-active emcees, dancers and graffiti artists reflecting on the Lower East Side hip hop scene. Almost everyone in the movie grew up somewhere in the broad swath of Housing Authority developments along the East River between E. 14th St. and the Brooklyn Bridge. It’s a close-knit community — and one of their enduring bonds has been hip hop culture.

One of the documentary’s highlights is footage of KRS-ONE talking into Kevin Harris’s camera during an appearance on the Lower East Side. Kevin would do the filming while Troy would set up the interviews…He says he spent time at the E. Third St. Men’s Shelter as a young man, and that it was during this period that he wrote his material for one of rap’s all-time top albums.

“I wrote ‘Criminal Minded’ in two places,” he says, “[sitting on a bench on] the Brooklyn Bridge and the Lower East Side. … And when I was in the shelter, there was this graffiti writer that used to put these black figures on the walls. I think it was REVS or COST.”

There will be a thirty-minute public preview of the film at Clayton Patterson’s home gallery at 161 Essex Street this Sunday. If interested, meet at the BMW Guggenheim monstrosity at 1:15 pm.

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