Hip Hop Was Born From The Fire Of Redlining

wall of stereos
Via Flickr
Adé Hennis
August 24, 2023

Hip-Hop was born in the South Bronx in 1973, where DJs and MCs performed in outside lots and abandoned buildings. They performed at these venues not by choice, but because they had to.

In the 1970s, nearly 80 percent of housing in the South Bronx was lost to fires – and many of these fires were ignited intentionally.

Due to redlining, the South Bronx – which was mainly populated with Black and Latino residents – was seen by insurers and mortgage lenders as an undesirable area. So landlords reportedly set their properties on fire to get insurance payouts, or just abandoned them entirely. But the people of the South Bronx did not give up on their neighborhood.

With their resources and opportunities being burned down before their eyes, the Bronx youth held block parties, becoming a melting pot of different cultures and creating a new type of music, dance, art, and culture. Those young innovators turned ashes into aspiration.

The birth of the Hip-Hop era helped save the South Bronx and brought our people together. Today, we face new threats that want to erase us, all while stealing the essence of Hip-Hop. With the power to usher in a new lifestyle in the palm of our hands, what do you want it to look like?