We’ve seen the MTA release limited-edition Biggie and Dolly Parton MetroCards in the past, and now the New York Public Library (NYPL) and Queens Public Library (QPL) are following suit with limited-edition library cards celebrating the 50th anniversary of hip-hop!
The cards recognize NYC’s role in hip-hop’s rise as a global cultural movement, commemorating the moment when, on August 11, 1973, “DJ Kool Herc switched, repeated, and isolated tracks through record break at a house party in the South Bronx, creating one of the first instances of the genre as people would come to know it,” says NYPL.
The NYPL card features the iconic “Wild Style” mural from the original soundtrack of the 1983 film of the same moniker. Set in the South Bronx with appearances by some of the most formative figures of the genre–including Fab 5 Freddy, the Cold Crush Brothers, Lady Pink, and Grandmaster Flash–the film is considered the first ever hip-hop film.
The distinct “Wild Style” mural created by artists Zephyr, Revolt, and Sharp can be seen on the front of the card, with the back of the card showing the original soundtrack cassette.
The soundtrack’s original cassette is part of NYPL’s extensive hip-hop research collection at the Schomburg Center.
The QPL card features art by the legendary streetwear trailblazers the Shirt Kings, who began selling graffiti-inspired custom clothing in 1986 from a booth at the Colosseum Mall in Jamaica, Queens.
Their designs drew some of the biggest names in hip-hop, was featured on album covers and music videos, and helped lay the foundation for hip-hop fashion as a global force.
Queens Central Library (89-11 Merrick Boulevard in Jamaica) will host a Hip-Hop Card Release Party with the Shirt Kings and special guests on Thursday, July 13 at 11:30 a.m. Early access to the cards will be available at the start of the celebration.
The limited-edition library cards will be available at all QPL and NYPL branches starting Friday, July 14.
In addition to the cards, both library systems will celebrate hip-hop’s anniversary through a series of special events taking place Thursday, August 3 through Saturday, August 5. The full calendar of events can be found here.