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NYC Mayor Eric Adams Appears on NY1’s “In Focus With Cheryl Wills”

August 6, 2023

Cheryl Wills: Welcome to In Focus on… Day 23. I’m Cheryl Wills. Today we’re on location at the birthplace of hip hop, 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx.

50 years ago this month, DJ Kool Herc kicked off a party that would one day radically change the music industry and give a powerful voice and microphone to the voiceless. For the next hour, we’ll talk with the movers and shakers of hip hop, including another Bronx legend, KRS-One, who gives us an exclusive tour inside 1520 Sedgwick Avenue and what he’s personally doing to save it. We also chop it up with the first rap group to go platinum, the Sugar Hill Gang. Plus we’ll have some surprise guests roll through.
But first we’re going to cross the bridge, hop on the FDR, and head downtown to City Hall, where Mayor Eric Adams brought the hip hop community together for a very special announcement. In honor of the 50th anniversary, New Yorkers are in for a treat. Free concerts in all five boroughs. Take a look.

[Video starts.]

KRS-One: Let me tell you what it is, off the top. This is what we call real hip hop off the block. I’m telling you right now, because back in the day it was a mayor called Mayor Koch that didn’t know his way. He had us looking, he said “War on graffiti.” Had us running all up and down the whole city. But 20 years later, guess who popped up? Real hip hop and you know what’s up.

[Video ends.]

Wills: That’s hip hop legend, KRS-One. Fresh off the dome on a hot mic. Kicking off a special announcement with Mayor Adams at City Hall in honor of a music milestone.

[Video starts.]

Mayor Eric Adams: For 50 years. Think about it, 50 years. Who would’ve thought hip hop would have brought us this far, from partying on the block, to standing here at City Hall, honoring these legends as the mayor of the city of New York.

[Video ends.]

Wills: And this month the party is on and popping. New York City’s sponsoring free block parties in all five boroughs in partnership with Lisa Project NYC, and It’s All Black Music.

[Video starts.]

Jocelyn Cooper, Founder, ITS ALL BLACK MUSIC PRESENTS: As a child from Brooklyn who honestly had the Sugar Hill Gang perform in my elementary school lunchroom, and as someone who has been a part of hip hop, I cannot believe that we are here at this moment at this time.

[Video ends.]

Wills: First Deputy Mayor Sheena Wright says the events are designed to bring communities together in the spirit of old school block parties, no tickets needed.

First Deputy Mayor Sheena Wright: The core of hip hop is about confidence. We come from the grit in some of the hard scrabble circumstances, but it really celebrates the strength of perseverance, of character, of having high goals, of being and leaning into being successful.

Wills: Officials are going all out to celebrate a half century of rap. There will also be an amazing hip hop drone show that will light up the night sky.

[Video starts.]

Mayor Adams: I am, and I’m proud to say, the first time in history, not LaGuardia, not Beame, not Koch, not de Blasio, not Bloomberg. I am the hip hop mayor.

[Video ends.]

Wills: Let’s begin today’s program with our city’s first hip hop mayor by his own declaration, Mayor Eric Adams. Tell us about the concert series that really are block parties that you just announced here at City Hall.

Mayor Adams: Yeah. So there’s a huge party that’s going to take place at Yankee Stadium, but what we wanted to do in the celebration of 50 years of hip hop is to do it on a local level. Many people don’t realize that in the crevices of our communities, they were these events called block parties with hip hop, local DJs carrying crates of records, coming out and really celebrating on the blocks. People used to come from blocks all over on other blocks, and it was a great experience. We want to relive that as we lift up 50 years of hip hop.

Wills: And best of all, it’s free.

Mayor Adams: Listen, you can’t beat free. That’s the four letter word that New Yorkers love.

Wills: That’s right. That’s right.

Mayor Adams: It’s free, it’s outdoor. We’re going to bring in artists like KRS-One and others, and we have to take our hats off to those corporate partners that are really bringing out those artists.

Wills: Let’s take it back to when you were little Eric Adams walking the streets of Queens. When you first heard hip hop, what do you remember back then?

Mayor Adams: It was back in school. I’m almost sure it was Bayside High School. I just remember that we were in the auditorium and we were there for some type of drill, it was either a fire drill or something; and one of the students got on the microphone, wasn’t supposed to do it, and started doing a hip hop rhyme. We were like, “What is that?” And then we got the Sugar Hill Gang that came out, KRS-One, Curtis Blow, Run-DMC, and all of a sudden there was this movement. And it just felt right. And everyone started to remember the beats, the sounds, and it became our real inspiration, that our story was being told on a huge platform that we created. Cassette tapes, Walkmans, and just listening to the music and the sounds.

Wills: And now it’s worldwide.

Mayor Adams: International. All over the globe, you hear people hearing and listening to hip hop, you think about it, we should be proud as New Yorkers. Here is a genre that started in our city, in The Bronx, considered one of the most economically challenging communities in the country. Something was born there. And it turned out to be an international gem. That’s something to think about.

Those of us who have a regimen, we like to hear music, and so life is an exercise. And so just as music will motivate you in the gym, it could motivate you in life. And during those tough times you put on, back then it was a Walkman or it was a cassette tape, and you put it on and it just will inspire you. And so when you see music today, like some versions of drill music, not all, some, that tells young people to be retaliatory and violent, to shoot each other, to spit on each other’s grave. People don’t realize that can actually have an impact on you. And that’s why we need these legendary musicians and artists to come and infuse real energy in the music. Today I exercise to Marvin Gaye’s, What’s Going On. And those real lyrics, it’s empowering. And we never should lose focus of that, and young people need to be inspired. My son, who just did an album, goes under the stage named Jayoo, he really talks about his experience in his music.

Wills: That’s amazing. So lastly, KRS-One was here. And 30 years ago he did Self-Destruction.

Mayor Adams: Yes.

Wills: And sadly, that message still applies 30 years later. Do you ever think about that?

Mayor Adams: Yes, yes. Self-Destruction was powerful and I think about it, even today. I was out in Sunset Park watching a young child that was buried due to gun violence. He was from the Uzbek community, came here pursuing the American dream. That funeral was a nightmare to the family and his loved ones in his community. That self-destruction is what we need to focus on, and we’re seeing young people creating violence on other young people. We need to make sure that we can stop that self-destruction. It’s crucial.

Wills: Yeah. And I’ll leave you with this. You’re proud to be the first hip hop mayor of New York City.

Mayor Adams: Not Beame, not Koch, not Bloomberg, not Giuliani, not de Blasio. There’s only one hip hop Mayor, Eric Adams.

Wills: Well, Mr. Mayor, thank you so much for your time.

Mayor Adams: Thank you. Thank you.

 NYC City Hall Mayor Eric Adams office New York news  –  Big New York news BigNY.com

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