Fifty years ago this summer, hip-hop was born during a back-to-school party in the Bronx. With its five elements of DJing, emceeing, breakdancing, graffiti artistry and knowledge, the genre grew into an international sensation, and events all year will celebrate the history—and future—of hip-hop.
From a photography exhibit to themed music nights, here’s how to commemorate 50 years of hip-hop. We’ll update this guide all summer as new events are announced, so stay tuned.
Since hip-hop was born in the Bronx, it only makes sense to celebrate in the Bronx. Head to Bronx Terminal Market for the “[R]Evolution of Hip Hop” exhibit on view all summer. The exhibit is curated by The Universal Hip Hop Museum, which is currently under construction and slated to open in 2024 at Bronx Point.
At “[R]Evolution of Hip Hop,” immerse yourself in what’s known as the golden era of hip-hop, the years from 1986-1990. The exhibit offers an interactive journey through history using artifacts, multimedia, artificial intelligence and virtual and augmented technologies.
2. Grandmaster Flash and Friends performance
At the “Birth of a Culture” concert, hear from the iconic Grandmaster Flash and his friends during a free show in the Bronx as part of Summer Stage.
The best DJ at a time when DJs were the stars of the Bronx’s burgeoning hip-hop scene, Flash is responsible for technical and stylistic innovations that helped shape the culture in its infancy. His crew of MCs, The Furious Five, cut some of hip-hop’s most iconic records, including “The Message,” a hard-hitting dispatch of socio-political commentary that highlighted the inequalities plaguing their community. For this concert in the Bronx’s Crotona Park, Flash brings his friends for a homecoming show to celebrate their contributions to the birth of a hip-hop culture that has gone global yet is inexorably woven into the story of America.
The show’s on Friday, August 4 at Crotona Park.
3. “For the Love” headlined by Wu-Tang Clan
“For the Love” will celebrate of the 50th anniversary of hip-hop with a day full of events and a show headlined by legendary hip-hop collective Wu-Tang Clan, which started in Staten Island in the early 1990s. The festival, hosted at the Knockdown Center in Queens on August 10, is intended to celebrate the impact and listener love of hip-hop.
The day kicks off with a family-friendly program, “For the Love: Community Giveback” in which local students, families, and businesses can enjoy hip-hop activities and performances to support the Boys & Girls Club of Metro Queens. Throughout the afternoon, breakdancing performances, double-dutch to live, interactive broadcasts of SiriusXM Hip-Hop Nation’s Gray Rizzy and The Heat’s DJ Steel will also take place.
By evening, Wu-Tang Clan will take the stage with every member of the crew.
RSVP to the event is free, and admission will be granted on a first-come, first served basis. The daytime event is 13+ and the nighttime event with Wu-Tang is 21+.
4. BRIC Hip-Hop 50th Anniversary Weekend
BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn!, the an annual series of outdoor concerts in Prospect Park, will host a Hip-Hop 50th Anniversary Weekend on August 11-12. On Friday, August 11, see Digable Planets and Kari Faux. On Saturday, August 12 it’s Film Night: Brown Sugar.
It’s free to attend but if you RSVP, you could score a pair of VIP tickets.
5. The Book of HOV at Brooklyn Library
From The Marcy Houses to the biggest stages in the world, Jay-Z has always represented Brooklyn. Now Brooklyn is radiating that love back to him with a major, free exhibition called The Book of HOV on view at Brooklyn Public Library.
The exhibit chronicles the journey and impact of Shawn Carter through thousands of archived objects, including original recording masters, never-before-seen photos, iconic stage wear, prestigious awards and videos. Roc Nation created the exhibit as a surprise to the renowned hip-hop star as the city celebrates 50 years of the genre that started right here in New York City. See it at Brooklyn’s Central Library along Grand Army Plaza during regular library hours through this fall (an exact closure date hasn’t been set).
The popular block party thrown by three Manhattan museums is back on Thursdays, August 3, with live performances, art-making, music and dancing as well as free access to exhibits now on at host museums El Museo del Barrio, Museum of the City of New York and Africa Center.
This year’s event pays tribute to the 50th anniversary of hip-hop and 10 years of Uptown Bounce.
7. I Love NY Summer of Hip Hop
This summer event series includes concerts, art displays, freestyle battles, dance competitions, silent discos and creative workshops.
The “5X5 Block Party Series,” is a series of free block parties, concerts and events that will take place across all five boroughs this August. Hip-hop icon KRS-One—the Bronx-born rapper behind tracks like “Sound of da Police,” “Love’s Gonna Get’cha (Material Love),” and “My Philosophy”—will help curate the series, as well as perform at the block parties. The program is hosted in partnership between the mayor’s office and ITSALLBLACKMUSIC PRESENTS.
Along with live performances, the events will consist of DJ sets, street-art installations, food vendors, educational talks, interactive experiences and drone light shows. The schedule for the free block parties is below, though a full lineup of performances and other activations is still to be announced:
Brooklyn: Saturday, August 5, 3pm – 9:30pm | Fulton Street & Washington Avenue
Queens: Sunday, August 6, 3pm – 9:30pm | Vernon Boulevard & 41st Avenue
The Bronx: Saturday, August 12, 1pm – 9:30pm | 1520 Sedgwick Avenue
10. Hip Hop Til Infinity at Hall des Lumières
A new immersive exhibit offers a chance to go back in time to the beginning of hip-hop while also speeding ahead into the future of the genre. “Hip Hop Til Infinity,” the latest installation coming to the resplendentHall des Lumières.
Visitors will be transported through hip-hop’s different eras and regions, from skate parks to the stage to the metaverse. Expect to see important moments in hip-hop history represented through state-of-the-art audio-visual technology.
The immersive exhibit will open on Wednesday, August 2 in Lower Manhattan withtickets availablethrough September 17. Tickets start at $45/person.
11. Collections of Culture: 50 Years of Hip Hop Inside Libraries, Museums and Archives
The initiative will culminate in a two-day summit from August 3-4 in Queens to further explore the history of hip-hop and its expansion into different sectors of society, including higher education, marketing/advertising, other genres of music, social justice, civil rights, and economics.
Queens Public Library has long been devoted to spotlighting the genre. The library established a hip-hop program in 2015 when it hired its first-ever hip hop coordinator Ralph McDaniels, also known as “Uncle Ralph.” McDaniels, who started the long-running music television show “Video Music Box,” regularly creates programming about the genre. In addition, the library preserves hip-hop’s legacy in Queens through a collection of artifacts such as photographs, periodicals, audio tapes, video tapes, writings, news articles, flyers, and oral histories from people involved with the genre from its origins until now.
12. Trusted Mic Hip Hop Music Nights
Chelsea’s Somewhere Nowhere will celebrate hip-hop on Friday nights from 5-10pm. Trusted Mic will feature live music from The Rakiem Walker Project Band. This weekly, after-work celebration of hip hop music leads up to the 50th anniversary celebrations. Expect surprise performances, great vibes, classic cocktails, dinner and dancing. Book a table here.
13. Real Rap: Hip-Hop Star Power on Screen
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, this film series at Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria celebrates the insatiable beats and lyrics of hip-hop. The series will focus on hip-hop artists who have appeared on the big screen, including Queen Latifah, Tupac, and Ice Cube. In addition to the screenings, “Real Rap” will feature special guest speakers, discussions, a spoken word showcase and a summer dance party.
Known for her work in the ’80s with hip-hop and an eye for documenting the cutting-edge in urban culture, photographs by Janette Beckman will celebrate the anniversary with an exhibit called “Hip Hop at 50.” See her photos on the windows at the corner of Fulton and Front Street in the Seaport through October 31.
15. Sampling, a collaborative public mural
Local kids worked together to create a hip-hop mural that you can view in Soho. The large-scale collage drew on imagery from the NYPL Picture Collection, exploring visual and musical sampling. Like sampling a track in a song, the students of City-As-School took pre-existing media and transformed it into their own collective artwork. The artists incorporated self-portraits alongside cut-out photos of the early pioneers of Hip-Hop like Notorious BIG, RUN DMC, Slick Rick, and TLC.
See Sampling in the windows of The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space at WNYC and WQXR’s headquarters on Varick Street through August. The project’s organized by Children’s Museum of the Arts.
16. Hip Hop 50 Live at Yankee Stadium
A powerhouse concert is coming to Yankee Stadium on Friday, August 11 featuring some of the genre’s biggest names. Hip Hop 50 Live at Yankee Stadium will feature Run DMC’s “Bottom of the Ninth…The Walk-Off” performance, Lil Wayne, Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube and more to be announced. A “Queens of Hip Hop” set will feature Eve, Lil Kim, Remy Ma, Trina and more.
Additional performers include: T.I., Fat Joe, Common, Ferg, EPMD, Ghostface Killah, Lupe Fiasco and Slick Rick. A “Pillars of Hip-Hop” set will feature Kool Herc & Cindy Campbell, Grandmaster Caz, Kurtis Blow, Melle Mel, Roxanne Shante, Scorpio and the Sugarhill Gang, and a “Legendary DJ” set will have Clark Kent, Marley Marl, Mannie Fresh and Battlecat.
Tickets start at $165.
17. Lincoln Center’s Hip-Hop Week
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts will close out its Summer for the City Festival with several days devoted to hip-hop. From August 9-12, expect a wide range of events, performances, and workshops.
The week kicks off with a dance storytime event, combining beats and books for the whole family. There’s also a dance battle, film screenings, silent disco and live music. Here’s the full rundown.
18. Landmark Festival
Expect a lineup of elite artists bringing the background into foreground as they pay homage to some of New York’s most iconic hip-hop landmarks. The Landmark Festival includes an impressive lineup of DJs and performances, live painting, a record fair, vendors and more. Performers include Grand Wizzard, Theodore, Large Professor, Dj Eclipse, Al Skratch, DJJS1, Money Mike, Eitan Noyze, DJ Late for Dinner, Quinnette and more.
It’s at Exodus in East Harlem on Saturday, July 29 with tickets ranging from $5-30.
19. Circle Line Hip-Hop boat party
Step into the vibrant world of hip-hop and celebrate this groundbreaking cultural movement with a Circle Line dance party. The boat tour company is hosting a “50th Anniversary of Hip-Hop Night” on Thursday, August 10. The event will spotlight the music of Missy Elliott, so get ready to “Work It.” Byron from B. Free Dance will teach you signature moves while you sip themed cocktails and take in New York’s world-famous skyline views.
Tickets for the dance cruise—which will sail out of midtown’s Pier 83 at West 42nd Street and will cruise for two hours, from 7:30 to 9:30pm—cost $25 and can be purchased at theCircle Line website.
20. Genius IQ/BBQ
Genius, the world’s biggest collection of song lyrics and musical knowledge, is bringing back its signature live concert event, Genius IQ/BBQ, a free, all-day music festival celebrating Hip-Hop’s 50th birthday. Head to the Knockdown Center in Queens on Saturday, August 19 for live music art and food for purchase.
Pusha T and Malice from hip-hop duo Clipse are set to headline the event.
21. Park Lane New York Hip-Hop Series
Head to the rooftop of Park Lane New York for fun hip-hop parties in August. From Tuesday, August 8 to Saturday, August 12, Darling, the hotel’s whimsical rooftop bar located on the 47th floor, will showcase a special series of different vinyl-only DJs each evening, as well as an exclusive pop-up cocktail menu inspired by the history of hip-hop. Here’s the schedule:
— Stretch Armstrong: Tuesday, August 8, 9pm-12am — Niles Harris: Wednesday, August 9, 6pm-10pm — Boogie Blind: Thursday, August 10, 9pm-12am — Niks: Friday, August 11, 9pm-12am — DJ Dhundee: Saturday, August 12, 9pm-12am
There will also be a bespoke Hennessy tasting session and merchandise giveaway taking place on Thursday, August 10.
22. 50 Murals Celebrating 50 Years
Keep an eye out this summer for murals around town celebrating 50 years of hip-hop. Find them all around the five boroughs through Labor Day.
The mayor’s office is partnering with LISA Project NYC to create the murals since the medium of street art is defining aspect of hip hop culture. All locations are being scouted through LISA Project NYC, which will also host five future free block parties and artist roundtables alongside the murals over the course of the year, one for each borough.
23. What’s next?
The celebrations will likely spill in 2024 with the planned opening of The Universal Hip Hop Museum. As soon as we know more, we’ll keep you posted.