‘It’s a way of life for me’: Recognizing RVA’s Hip-Hop Trailblazers


RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) –The 50th anniversary of Hip-Hop music was celebrated last year, but the celebration and accolades are continuing here in Richmond.

The certified Hip-Hop independent music awards were held recently, paying tribute to some of the pioneers of Hip-Hop here in RVA.

“It’s a way of life for real, it’s a way of life for me,” said Kool DJ Foot.

These hip-hop trailblazers broke barriers in the music industry in our area.

“So you know they have been beating the drum in the state of Virginia for quite some time, so you actually want to give a person their flowers while they are still living,” said Wendell Moss, producer of the certified independent Hip-Hop music awards.

Those pioneers were honored with Icon awards.

Kool DJ Foot from 106.5 The Beat.

“It’s good to be recognized,” said Kool Dj Foot.

Mike Street is the radio director for 106.5 The Beat.

“It’s cool to be honored for something that you do, especially something that you love and enjoy,” said Street.

These two shifted local radio in our area in the 90′s, spinning Hip-Hop records and cementing RVA as a legitimate battleground for Hip-Hop.

“Hip-hop is like a game; you get the ball, and you try not to fumble it,” said Street.

Noah-O, a rapper and Hip-Hop historian, is also on that Icon award list.

“Hip-Hop has really changed my life, it gave me a sense of purpose and direction especially coming up in Richmond,” said Noah-O.

Lastly, ELBRAVADOR of the Z Rock Crew. A DJ and Hip-Hop historian was also honored.

“To be recognized, it’s a great feeling, and to be able to still do this after all these years, you know, 50 years of hip hop, but for us, it’s 40 plus years,” said ELBRAVADOR.

This recognition comes months after the city of Richmond also paid tribute to the genre.

“Now, therefore, I, Mayor Levar M. Stoney of the City of Richmond, do hereby proclaim Aug. 11, 2023, Richmond Hip-Hop Day in the city of Richmond to recognize the artist’s contributions of the city’s hip-hop legends giving birth to the long luscious musical history,” said Mayor Stoney.

ELBRAVADOR was among a slew of artists honored with the proclamation and their own day.

Other names are also cemented as Hip-Hop pioneers in the river city.

“Talk to someone who lived it. We lived it,” said ELBRAVADOR.

Names like Jay Quan of the Too Def Crew, whose first record came out in 1987.

Chris Brooks is one of the creators of the show B Side.

Lastly, DJ Madd Mixer of the Jr. Funk Machine used the sound to express himself.

“I love Hip-Hop. It lets me be me,” said Madd Mixer.

Brooks and ELBRAVADOR also created one of the biggest local programs showcasing our local hip-hop talents.

Street says they inspired him and were critical in spreading the Hip-Hop sound in our city.

“They’re literally the ones that put the battery in my back and made me want to do djing on the radio,” said Street.

They’re also inspiring a new generation of DJs and artists.

“To be recognized with, along with people that inspire me, is like a full circle moment. It’s definitely a[n] honor,” said Noah-O

For a more in-depth look at the Hip-Hop history of Richmond.

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