A Museum Grows In The Bronx [WAAMN Chapter 2.4]

Rocky Bucano got his start battling Grandmaster Flash in local DJ contests. Now he’s bringing home hip-hop’s answer to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

This is a special Saturday installment of my new book, We Are All Musicians Now. To make sure you don’t miss future weekly serializations, click here. Below you’ll find Chapter 2: The Genius of Ownership (Part 4). Enjoy!

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“I'm telling everybody here: If you love hip-hop the way that I love hip-hop … if you want to pay homage to hip-hop and immortalize our giants, then you got to start helping out in every shape and form, especially financially,” exclaims Bronx borough president Ruben Diaz, Jr. as he welcomes the towering Rocky Bucano, executive director of the Universal Hip Hop Museum, to the stage. “And I want to make the first deposit. This is $4.2 million.”

The crowd of hundreds, gathered here at the museum’s South Bronx groundbreaking ceremony, lets out a collective whoop, and Bucano takes the mic. Standing about as tall as the average NBA forward, his stature is even grander when it comes to launching the UHHM—hip-hop’s answer to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

“This museum is being built by people who’ve come from hip-hop; it’s not being built from outside of hip-hop, and that to me is very special,” Bucano begins. “We’re preserving and celebrating all of the five elements of hip-hop: the graffiti, the b-boys, the MCs, the DJs, all the students and educators ... and we’re forming great partnerships.”

That last bit is what’s enabling the museum to literally and figuratively get off the ground, after nearly a decade of efforts. Perhaps nobody better embodies hip-hop’s own journey from outsider to insider, employee to owner, than Bucano himself.

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