Hip hop heads don’t have to wait until the museum opens, tentatively in 2024, to get a taste of their favorite emcees. Across the street from where the museum is being built, there’s a pop-up of the Universal Hip Hop Museum (UHHM) at the Bronx Terminal Market (610 Exterior Street). The pop-up is called “[R]Evolution of Hip Hop” and covers just a small piece of the genre’s history from 1986-1990, known as the “Golden Era.”
Progress of the UHHM
We were lucky enough to be given a tour of what the UHHM looks like so far by one of the founders, Rocky Bucano. With hard hats strapped, we walked the floors of what will be 53,000 square feet of hip hop goodness.
The museum has 13 years in the making and construction finally broke ground in May 2021. When we visited, the windows were recently put in, while there is a lot left to do but the structure was beginning to take shape.
Where there was dust and building materials, Bucano told us his vision of the museum, of what’s being built. There will be an event space that would serve as a theater, banquet hall and performance area, and there will be a restaurant with an outdoor patio. What we could see were the undeniably beautiful views of the Harlem River.
“[R]Evolution of Hip Hop” Pop-Up
November is hip hop history month, and there’s no other way we would want to celebrate than be in the Bronx at the “[R]Evolution of Hip Hop” experience. The pop-up is built by Collab NYC Adina’s company and will be around until the actual museum opens.
From the moment we walked in, we were met with incredible memorabilia and original items such as Slick Rick’s throne which was on tour with him, the late Coolio’s bike, and a variety of art and tour posters. This hip hop foyer is the perfect entrance to this inspiring pop-up.
Even though the genre was born in the Bronx, the genre has deep roots in each of the five boroughs. A few Queens Hip Hop icons such as Run DMC and LL Cool J were big focuses at the beginning of the pop-up.
Much of the pop-up is filled with incredible items, from tour outfits to actual contracts where you can see how much an artist or group was paid at the time (not much). There were also personal items and photos, such as a young Tupac having his hair cut.
Halfway through the pop-up, a DJ is in full swing and a giant boombox takes most of the second half of the pop-up space in a setting that looks like an old-school home from the 1980s (wood paneling and all). The speakers in the boombox are screens and show old footage of West Coast rappers on the left and East Coast rappers on the right (you know I stepped to the right!).
Visitors could also tag some walls to their hearts’ desire with paint cans and a virtual wall. In collaboration with Microsoft, the experience had other innovative and fun technological elements.
Breakbeat Narratives allowed you to answer questions depending on your music tastes and the artists you like and a playlist would be created for you. You could scan the code and have the playlist automatically on your Spotify account. Breakbeat Narratives was a highlight of the pop-up.
Forget the turkey and “Get Tricky” during Hip Hop history month! Tickets to the pop-up are $20. The “[R]Evolution of Hip Hop” pop-up is up and running until the UHHM opens in 2024!