Hip Hop 50th Anniversary Celebration

An epic event featuring music, art, and inspiration.

On October 26th, York College Foundation will host a day-long celebration marking the 50th anniversary of Hip Hop and the unique prominence Queens holds as a pioneering force in hip hop history. The celebration spotlights music, art, a tribute to women in hip hop, and honors the legendary Ralph McDaniels known fondly by many as “Uncle Ralph,” Founder of Video Music Box and Hip Hop Coordinator at Queens Public Library, at a special evening reception.

To launch this anniversary event, a committee was formed and Co-Chaired by Dawn Kelly, York College Foundation Board of Directors and Founder & CEO of the Nourish Spot; and Pat Robinson, who held key roles at Hot 97, WBLS, and WLIB, and is currently Chief Administrative Officer at Greater Jamaica Development Cooperation. “We are grateful for the insight and ideas offered by Dawn and Pat, two leaders who helped us shape this important day,” said York College President Berenecea Johnson Eanes. “Their involvement has been central to our effort to ensure that Queens is recognized as a cultural influencer in hip hop throughout New York City, the nation, and worldwide,” she added.

In talking about what inspired her to help organize the celebration at York, Ms. Robinson said, “Hip Hop is my story. It is why I lead the way I lead today; it gave me swag and confidence. It made me believe. The culture provided me with a direct lens into storytelling that I held onto growing up in the projects in my childhood. Hip Hop influenced greatness within me, it reminded me of real-life challenges, but it always told me the story authentically. I am proud to pay homage to 50 years of Hip Hop and to the legends that skillfully created a global phenomenon that the world benefits from today.”

Ms. Kelly added, “The roots of hip hop are strong across Queens from Astoria to Southside Jamaica. From LL Cool J, 50 Cent, Lost Boyz, Nicki Minaj, Run DMC, Queens reigned supreme in the early 70s delivering hit after hit to the streets. I applaud President Eanes and York College/CUNY for recognizing the trailblazing work of hip hop icon Ralph McDaniels and for celebrating and studying the 50-year-old cultural phenomena and music genre.”

In recognition of the influence of hip hop worldwide, York College has made hip hop part of the elective curricula, offering a course charting the genre’s growth and life-changing cultural impact.


The morning starts with a panel of influencers who will share their perspectives on the trailblazing role women play in hip hop. Pat Robinson will host the panel of speakers featuring Amber Corine, staff writer at Vibe.com; Jazzie Belle; multimedia personality; and Nye$, performer and musical producer. The Women in Hip Hop panel is from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm in the Faculty Dining Room.


Chip Fu, internationally recognized as a universal storyteller and lyrical engineer, will lead an unforgettable experience with rappers taking center stage. The Cypher opens with live music from York College students, led by Prof. Tom Zablinger. It will end with legendary X-Fénz Crew Facing off against Team Wondrous in an epic breakdancing battle/ From 12:30 pm to 2:00 pm in the College’s atrium.


B.Dot is a South East Queens resident and an NYC-based journalist and broadcaster. A revered voice in hip hop culture with era-defining interviews of Jay-Z, Drake, Nipsey Hustle, and countless others, he will share an inside look at how hip hop changed history and left its indelible mark on musical genres, social justice, and the lives of many everywhere. B. Dot’s conversation will be from 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm.

The day will also feature an exhibit curated by award-winning photojournalist Kenneth Harris, which pays homage to the pioneers, artists, and moments that shaped the hip hop movement. In addition, the vibrant world of graffiti art will be featured throughout the day as Eric Black showcases his striking creations.

Capping off the day will be an evening reception paying tribute to Ralph McDaniels, a legend whose impact has been felt across the globe. At the reception honoring Mr. McDaniels, York College Hip Hop Scholars will be announced. The Hip Hop Scholars program will be supported by funds raised and by partnering with industry-leading companies, organizations and establishing affiliations. The program will provide scholars with tools to secure competitive internships and leadership-track jobs in a wide range of fields and will provide wrap-around support for their education journey (tuition, mentorship, emergency grants, books, transportation). “We are excited to celebrate Ralph McDaniels’ influence and impact. He has played a pivotal role in hip hop culture and in the community,” said President Eanes.

Thank you to our Sponsors: Greater Jamaica Development Corp, York College Alumni Association, DJ Magic, Nourish Spot and Community Partners: Council Member Nantasha Williams, and Jamacia Center for Arts & Learning (JCAL).

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