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NYC’s 5×5 Block Party Series Celebrates Hip Hop’s 50th

Earlier this summer, New York Mayor Eric Adams announced the “5X5” block party series, a continuation of worldwide celebrations of hip-hop that would be the biggest celebration of the form all year. Here’s a recap of all the festivities, having taken place just a few weeks ago throughout August.

Taken at the Bronx’s celebration on August 11th. Credit to @ason_marc on Instagram.

The First Weekend in Brooklyn & Queens

Things kicked off with Brooklyn’s edition, taking place on Fulton Street in the borough that gave the world the Notorious B.I.G., Mos Def and Jay-Z, as well as modern stars like Pop Smoke & Joey Bada$$. KRS-One, Smif-N-Wessun, Masta Ace and a lineup full of hip-hop royalty graced the stage, all brought together by DJing from the storied Prince Paul and Mister Cee.

Neighboring Queens took the spotlight the following day. Mobb Deep, Kool G Rap and Onyx headed the lineup for the live performance half of the festivities. Though certainly the headline grabber, those concerts weren’t the only draw for hip-hop fans. Each borough hosted a parallel conversation series, bringing together some of the biggest names of hip-hop’s past and future. For Queens, that was Flo Milli, Remy Ma & Salt-N-Pepa, taking part in a live talk titled “Very Necessary: A Conversation with Women in Hip Hop.” Given the total takeover in recent years by female MCs, it couldn’t have come at a more opportune time.

Closing Out in the Birthplace of Hip-Hop

The following Friday started the biggest weekend of the slate. Not only because it featured three boroughs, but because Harlem & The Bronx played host on the 11th and 12th. Two of the most formative locales in NYC’s hip-hop history, their editions boasted all-star lineups to match. Just minutes from the birthplace of hip-hop at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue, The Bronx’s block party brought together Kid Capri, Talib Kweli and Chuck D for the official 50th birthday of the genre. KRS-One also made an appearance, having been anointed the unofficial torch bearer for the 5X5 series, and showing up at 3 of the 5 editions.

Finally, Harlem closed out the program at the iconic Apollo Theater, featuring Dres from the legendary outfit Black Sheep alongside the Jungle Brothers. Having birthed some of the most celebrated artists in all of hip-hop history, the NYC government made the correct choice in officially sanctioning such a widespread observance of today’s most popular genre. Without the Big Apple, the last 50 years of hip-hop would look radically different, and no doubt that’ll prove true for its next half century.

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