Retro Hip-Hop is making a comeback in the heart of New York thanks to a new summer music school run by Uptown Vinyl Supreme.
The Bronx-based movement, Uptown Vinyl Supreme, began two years ago after the Caribbean-native and journalist, Rainy Cruz, joined forces with visual artist and curator Sunny Vasquez and photographer DJ Buddy to share their love for the genre with the youth.
“When we started doing these events, we did it because we wanted to have fun,” Vasquez explained in an interview with ReMezcla. “We were tired of parties that didn’t feel organic — no one was dancing and it felt like a party I never wanted to be at. We threw one party and the feedback was amazing. After that, the demand just grew.”
The Hip-Hop Summer school appeared on Kickstarter promising six weeks of innovative artistic classes for kids between the ages of 12 and 18 with topics ranging from the history of the hip-hop scene to the art of lyricism to breakdancing and graffiti art. Their goal of US$5,253 was exceeded with the help of almost 100 supporters and a US$5,000 grant from the Bronx Council on the Arts.
“Hip-hop is a global phenomenon and kids look at these stars and they don’t think they could exceed to that or (that it could) belong to them, but it started in their backyard, their own borough. We want to show them that culture, the essence.”
The organization also allows students and enthusiasts to demonstrate their skills and music jams across the city, letting vinyl records from every decade spin all night long, sharing the love of music with New Yorkers almost nightly.
“We’re playing records from the 1970s almost in 2020,” said Cruz on the events they call “Vinyl for the People.” “I think that’s what’s making people speak to us. Love is the message and music is the conversation,” she said, adding that she felt the ancient tracks hold their own sense of unifying magic.
“I think it has a strong sense of community in a very natural way. We’re still doing (these events) and it’s still growing because of the reaction and response to it. I think it fills a void,” Buddy said.
Vasquez says she has big plans for the summer program with hopes to create a non-profit organization. In this way, the school could travel outside the Bronx and into low-income neighborhoods, areas where most school programs are ending due to the political situation.
“We have to cultivate the arts and keep it alive. I feel like we’re growing a seed right now and what is possible from UVS can really bear a fruit. Not for just us, but for the community.”