When considering what makes up NYC culture, there’s various elements you can think of. The bright lights, the skyscrapers, the hustle culture, the one-of-a-kind pizza, shows on Broadway. Yet, for me the heart beat of the city will always be rooted in the origin of hip hop. Regardless of your demographic or your music taste, everyone is usually able to connect and feel the rhythmic beats and powerful lyrics in hip hop, in a way that connects us all together.
Last Wednesday evening, The Knockturnal joined Gotham NY and Landmark at the House of Cannabis to celebrate artists paying homage to New York’s most iconic hip-hop landmarks. This evening was exactly what you would consider to be a GRAND opening. Between the empowering art exhibit, upbeat DJ lineups, and special performance by the legend Pharoahe Monch, it was an opportunity to immerse in the NYC hip hop culture with a hint of green.
Being a younger generation I didn’t have as much knowledge of old school hip hop as those next to me who grew up on it, but I still found myself feeling connected to the music, the art pieces, and the strangers around me. There was so much power in art Wednesday evening. Every form of art in the building told a story, a story of the realities of growing up in NYC during an era that shaped the roots of hip hop. The vibrant beats and rhythmic flow of the music, the graffiti-laden art pieces that covered the walls, and the diverse crowd sharing the space all became threads weaving together a narrative. It wasn’t just about the past; it was a collective expression of resilience, creativity, and the shared experiences of navigating the dynamic streets of New York City.
Pharoahe Monch is the perfect example of a storyteller through both audio and visual. His immersive art piece “Framing my Own Narrative” was on display and represented a story that required no verbal articulation because the piece spoke for itself. Luckily for us, we had the best of both worlds. Between his live performance at the center of his art piece, he told the story of key events of his teen years that played a huge part to the trajectory of his life and how he was molded into the man he is today. There was not a single person in the room who did not feel empowered and connected to those who filled the space through this art.
If you find yourself in the NYC area and a lover of all things hip-hop and Mary Jane, check out the month-long exhibit at the House of Cannabis to immerse yourself into NYC culture through art.