I admit it; I know almost nothing about Hip Hop. But Doo Wop, that is another story. I literally know thousands of songs and singers. While using my computer I often turn to the video jukebox of songs from the 1950’s & 1960’s and sing along (very loudly to my neighbors’ demise) while I write. So why did I accept an invitation from Hush Tours (www.hushtours.com
) to spend 4 hours on a lovely fall day touring Harlem and the Bronx on their Birthplace of Hip Hop Tour?
Debra Harris, aka Debbie Deb, founded Hush Tours Inc. in 2002. Hush is an acronym for the “Us” in Hip Hop and is all about telling the full story through its roots to current day. To some hip-hop may be just a music genre while to others it is “a culture.” It is undeniably one of the most influential, musically focused facets of American ideals in the past four decades.
Hush Tours has hip-hop celebrities as their tour guides as they explore the 4 elements of hip-hop: Dance, Graffiti (now known as Aerosol Art), DJing (Disk Jockey) and Mcing (Master of Ceremony)- aka-Rap. It is a NYC & NYS certified woman/minority business enterprise. Our tour driver John Shepherd is a vice president of the company.
Our guides were Reggie Reg of the legendary Crash Crew (1977), assisted by Austin aka Rayza. They filled the TV screen with photos of the legends of hip-hop as well as music videos to illustrate the places we were visiting. The three of them explained and illustrated the history of hip-hop and made it easy for this novice to understand and enjoy the journey.
We met our van at 59th
off Lexington Avenue. Our group of 10 included guests from London, Amsterdam, Florida & New Jersey. As I had assumed I was the oldest person on the tour (by 40 years, alas). Our first brief stop was at Frank E. Campbell Funeral Chapel at Madison Avenue & 81st Street where the likes of Biggie Small, Aaliyah, John Lennon and Notorious B.I.G. had their funeral services. To me the best part of the tour was stop #2 at 106th
& Park Ave in Spanish Harlem. We had a chance to view the Graffiti Wall of Fame at the playground of the Jackie Robinson Educational Complex.
Across the street we watched a demonstration of break dancing by B-Boy Mouse. He is currently pursuing a Masters program in dance through Alvin Alley in NYC. Even yours truly managed a few moves.
There was a short photo opportunity at Yankee Stadium before we stopped at 1520 Sedgwick Ave that was the site of the first ever hip-hop party (hosted by DJ Kool Herc) on August 11, 1973. It might have been an historic moment in hip-hop but all we saw was the front of an apartment building. We then stopped to take photos of the iconic street murals dedicated to the legends of hip-hop including Big L & Kool Herc.
We stopped for lunch (on our own and average at best) and then drove back to Manhattan finishing the tour at 59th & Fifth Ave. The Harlem part of the tour was the best. The Bronx half needs some reworking. But, overall it was a unique and enjoyable journey and highly recommended.
Cost of the Birthplace of Hip Hop Harlem/Bronx tour is $75 for adults; $58 for children under 18; under 5 ride for free.
About the author:
Ron Kapon has over 55 years experience in the wine & spirit field, starting with his first drink (mixed with water) at age 3 having written (with help from his father) his first wine list at 12. His family’s business Acker, Merrall & Condit was established in 1820 and is the oldest wine merchant in the United States. He graduated from Columbia College & the Graduate School of Business at Columbia University and moved to Europe where he developed his love for wine. Returning to operate his family’s business he immediately knew his passion was teaching, writing & lecturing and so moved in that direction.
You can read Ron’s articles in Sports Network, The Fifty Best, Cheese Connoisseur Magazine, Wine Country International, Real Travel Adventures, Everywhere Magazine, North American Travel Journalist Association, Travel World Magazine, AllWays Traveller, Local Wine Events, Tasters Guild Journal, Leisure Travel Report and FabSeniorTravel.
He is the co-author and co-producer of the FDU On-Line Wine Course which was developed for the NY Times Knowledge Network.
“You will learn & have fun and have fun as you learn.”