Yonkers Organizations Celebrate 50th Anniversary of Hip Hop

View press images here.

YONKERS, NY, December 7—Three Yonkers institutions have joined forces to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Hip Hop with exhibitions, programs, and even a limited edition Hip Hop library card. Hip Hop legends such as DMX, Mary J. Blige, and The Lox grew up in Yonkers and contributed to the burgeoning scene.


Yonkers Public Library

Yonkers Public Library (YPL) released a limited edition library card in recognition of the 50th anniversary of Hip Hop. The card features art by Yonkers native and acclaimed street artist Daniel Hopkins (AKA Maxx Moses or Pose2) and is available at all library locations. The special edition card, which was released on October 26, 2023, is titled The Sound of Light and features imagery that is both futuristic yet grounded in the soulful roots in which Hip Hop was founded upon. The patterns in the background and on the clothing are all derived from graffiti.

“YPL recognizes Hip Hop to be a vital artform and an essential part of Yonkers culture and history. We’re excited to celebrate its 50th anniversary with a fresh new library card designed by one of Yonkers’ own and that reflects its energy and creativity,” said Jesse Montero, library director. All Yonkers residents can request the special edition card when they apply for one at YPL.org while supplies last. All current cardholders can trade in their current card for a new card by visiting any of YPL’s three locations.


Yonkers Arts

Let Me Fly
November 2023–February 2024
Yonkers Arts, 216 Lake Ave, Yonkers, NY

Yonkers Arts and the Mulford Corporation present Let Me Fly, a DMX Tribute exhibition, celebrating the life, music, impact, and enduring legacy of the legendary rapper, DMX. The exhibition, curated by Ray Wilcox of Yonkers Arts, opened on November 3, 2023, at the Yonkers Arts Project Space and Gallery.

Let Me Fly is a continued celebration of DMX’s life through the artistic expression of artists based in and around Yonkers. The exhibition features a collection of photo images and mixed-media pieces anchored by professional photographer Shareif Z, also from Yonkers, whose featured images encapsulate almost two decades of DMX’s career. Let Me Fly is also thankful for the donations from show partners Def Jam and the Timberland company.

“DMX was a beloved member of the Yonkers community and a true icon of Hip Hop,” states Ray Wilcox, Executive Director of Yonkers Arts. “Let Me Fly is a fitting tribute to his legacy and a stark reminder of the power of art and how it can unite us all. This exhibition is a true play off the duality of the rapper. Not only are we honoring the legend of X, but we’re also honoring the Yonkers-based artists and their pieces that make up 100% of the exhibit.”

The idea and title of the exhibition, Let Me Fly, comes from one of DMX’s more personal songs featured on his iconic debut album, “It’s Dark and Hell is Hot.” The song serves as a cathartic outlet for him to express his pain and need for redemption. An introspective testimonial of struggle and resilience. The desire to be free, to fly, or to just give him five (bleeping) minutes to breathe. The exhibition is DMX’s story told through his own words via song lyrics, interview quotes, and general information.

Let Me Fly, a DMX Tribute exhibition is sponsored by the Mulford Corporation under the direction of Municipal Housing Authority CEO Wilson Kimball, the City of Yonkers, Arts Westchester, Yonkers PBA, and Yonkers Arts.


Hudson River Museum

Hip Hop Heroes
November 10, 2023–March 3, 2024
Hudson River Museum, 511 Warburton Avenue, Yonkers, NY
View press images here.

Hip Hop Heroes celebrates fifty years of Hip Hop in Yonkers and its neighboring communities, centering the stories of the pioneers and party goers who helped shape it into a global phenomenon. Featuring art and artifacts from community members, Hip Hop Heroes honors Yonkers, the Bronx, and Mount Vernon as sites of New York’s musical innovation, where artists from The Lox to DMX to Mary J. Blige honed their craft and contributed to a thriving Hip Hop scene.

Hip Hop is generally thought to be made up of four primary elements: DJing, MCing, breakdancing (or b-boying), and graffiti. Recognizing this multimedia dimension of the culture, the exhibition features work by graffiti writers, muralists, and comic book artists. The exhibition begins with an exploration of how the story of Hip Hop has often been told through the visual arts, featuring works by artists such as Antoinette Legnini and Andre Trenier and an original mural organized by Evan Bishop and painted by local artists including Nancy Mendez, Michael Cuomo, and Marco Barrios. These artworks are further contextualized by cherished memorabilia from community members, including a treasured collection of vinyls, photographs, ticket stubs, and flyers from the era.

Yonkers-based artist Evan Bishop, who co-curated the exhibition alongside HRM’s Mellon Public Humanities Fellow Karintha Lowe, stated, “This exhibition is an important step in the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Hip Hop culture. Yonkers has made a significant contribution and produced iconic artists. Having the Hudson River Museum join in this acknowledgement is huge, and the public will enjoy it. I am honored to co-curate this exhibit with Karintha to make this event a reality. May the architects of the culture be pleased.”

“We’re especially grateful to the Hip Hop artists, graffiti writers, and community members who shared their art and stories with us,” Karintha Lowe added. “It was a true pleasure to work with Evan on this exhibition and to have the opportunity to showcase Yonkers’ important place in Hip Hop history.”

The exhibition also builds from artist Evan Bishop’s workshop series, Hip Hop Heroes: Create a Comic Book Cover, which was held at the Museum in the winter of 2023 and introduced participants to the relationship between social issues and Hip Hop culture. Original works created in these workshops will be featured in the exhibition, complemented by a documentary about Bishop’s project, filmed by photojournalist Denzel Walters. A special feature of Hip Hop Heroes will be a series of arts workshops, held in the exhibition space, where visitors will have the opportunity to create their own Hip Hop heroes. The resulting art will be considered for inclusion in the comic book section of the exhibition, which will feature a rotating selection of original works, created by and for our diverse audiences.

Featured in the Museum’s Community and Partnership Gallery, Hip Hop Heroes is guided by the space’s mission to provide an inviting and experimental place to feature local, regional, and emerging artists as well as artists-in-residence and community-based collaborations.

Featured Artists: Tommy The Animator • Robin Alcantara • Marco Barrios • Shanequa Benitez • Michael Cuomo • Antoinette Legnini • Nancy Mendez • Nic 707 • Pose2/MaxxMoses • Lady Slim • Andre Trenier • Katori Walker • Denzel Walters

Memorabilia Contributors: The Benitez Family • Joe Genovese • Tom Ray • Raymond Vasquez • Yonkers Museum of Art (YoMA). With special thanks to Ken Davis and Dennis Fields.

This exhibition is co-curated by Yonkers-based artist Evan Bishop and Karintha Lowe, HRM’s Mellon Public Humanities Fellow.

Significant support is provided by the New York State Senate and Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins.

This exhibition is made possible by the City of Yonkers, Mayor Mike Spano; ReStart the Arts, administered by ArtsWestchester; and Sarah Lawrence College through a generous grant from the Mellon Foundation.

Additional assistance for HRM exhibitions is provided by the County of Westchester.


HRM Related Programs

All programs will take place at the Hudson River Museum and are free with general admission.

Black Boy Fly: A Conversation with Joshua Renfroe and Bentley Brown
Sunday, January 21, 2pm
In his debut photography collection, Black Boy Fly, art director Joshua Renfroe documents the unique makeup of Black male culture, featuring concepts including sneaker culture, fatherhood, brotherhood, Hip Hop, and more. Join Renfroe and curator Bentley Brown as they discuss the collection and explore the intersections between photography and Hip Hop culture.

Battle of the Boroughs: A Breakdancing Journey
Saturday, February 3, 2024, 1:30
For the first time in history, breakdancing will be featured as a sport in the 2024 Paris Olympics. In anticipation of its debut, join B-Boy extraordinaire London Reyes as he walks us through his time as a member of the NYC Breakers, when he traveled the world performing with celebrities like Wyclef Jean, LL Cool J, The Beastie Boys, and Run DMC. The event will be capped off with a live b-boy battle, featuring students from Reyes’s non-profit educational organization, AAA All-stars. Along the way, learn about–and practice for yourself–the power moves of breakdancing!

Curator Tour of Hip Hop Heroes with Karintha Lowe
Sunday, February 4, 1pm
Join Mellon Fellow in the Public Humanities, Karintha Lowe, who co-curated Hip Hop Heroes, for a tour of the interactive exhibition that celebrates the 50th anniversary of the musical genre. Discover how the story of Hip Hop in Yonkers has often been told through the visual arts, especially graffiti writing, comic books, and murals.

Yonkers: The Lost City of Hip Hop
Sunday, February 25, 2–4pm
Join us for an immersive program celebrating the rich and vibrant history of Hip Hop in Yonkers. This special event will feature a reading and discussion of Yonkers: The Lost City of Hip-Hop with author Jerome Enders, graffiti specialist Ken Davis, and DJ Beat Master Gene. YPL will be onsite for you to claim your Hip Hop edition library card. #BlackHistoryMonth

Music and Spoken Word: MC Lady Slim
Saturday, March 2, 1:30pm
Celebrate Women’s History Month with the musical stylings of contemporary Hip Hop artist Lady Slim. In this performance and artist talk-back, Lady Slim will play a set from her recent work and share how the Yonkers Hip Hop scene has influenced her fiercely authentic and expressive music and lyrics. With special guest appearances by Yonkers-based MCs, Tom Ray and Marcus John, who will join Lady Slim in an improvisational cypher. #WomensHistoryMonth


Yonkers Arts Related Programs

Donald Goins vs DMX: A Celebration of Influence
Friday, December 15, 6–9pm
Join us as we celebrate the incredible influences on black culture inspired by DMX and Donald Goins. Goins, an urban fiction writer whose work was inspired by Iceberg Slim, and DMX, whose music told the story of his struggles, both had impacts far beyond their respective outlets with works that resonate with audiences. This evening will include a reading from Jerome Enders’ ‘Yonkers The Lost City of Hip Hop’, a panel discussion featuring community members who knew DMX and a discussion with the curator along with special performances. Off The Hook’s foodtruck will be parked outside the Project Space for the night, and there will be an afterparty with karaoke at their restaurant located at 47 N Broadway, Yonkers, NY 10701.

Can I Vent? Creative Writing Workshop
Thursday & Friday, January 11 & 12
The “Can I Vent” writing program is a therapeutic writing experience that encourages participants to express their most vulnerable thoughts based on/around the “Let Me Fly: a DMX Tribute” exhibition located at the Yonkers Arts Project Space and Gallery. The program will be facilitated by 3x published author and spoken word artist Tom Ray and is inspired by DMX lyrics along with excerpts from his 2nd publication titled ‘P.A.I.N: Progress After Its Nemesis’. The program will take place on January 11th and 12th and is open to highschool age students. Time to be determined.

Community Networking Event
Thursday, January 11, 7–9pm
Yonkers Arts will be hosting a Communty Networking Event at the Yonkers Arts Project Space. We’re inviting our fellow Community organizations and nonprofits, startups|small businesses|entrepreneurs, financial, and educational institutions to experience the Yonkers Arts Project Space, the DMX tribute exhibition, and a great environment full of amazing individuals here in the community.

Artist Speak
Friday, January 12, 7–9pm
Join us as we speak to the artists featured in the exhibition to learn more about them, the inspiration behind their piece, their connection to DMX and how this exhibition has impacted on their lives.

Let Me Fly: a DMX Tribute Exhibition Closing Reception
Friday, January 19, 6–9pm
Join us for the closing reception for ‘Let Me Fly’ at the Yonkers Arts Project Space. Join us in celebrating the closing of one of the most visited exhibitions to date one final time before prepping for the upcoming Black History Month exhibition.


Image: Marco Barrios, Evan Bishop, Michael Cuomo, Nancy Mendez. An Ode to H.I.P.H.O.P. — Her Infinite Power Helps Oppressed People, 2023. Mixed media on wood panels. Courtesy of the artists.
About Hudson River Museum
The Hudson River Museum is a preeminent cultural institution in Westchester County and the New York metropolitan area. Situated on the banks of the Hudson River in Yonkers, New York, the HRM’s mission is to engage, inspire, and connect diverse communities through the power of the arts, sciences, and history.The Museum offers engaging experiences for every age and interest, with an ever-evolving collection of American art and dynamic exhibitions that range from notable nineteenth-century paintings to contemporary art installations. The HRM’s new West Wing offers sweeping views of the Hudson River in dedicated exhibition galleries. The campus also features Glenview, an 1877 house on the National Register of Historic Places; a state-of-the-art Planetarium; an environmental teaching gallery; and an outdoor Amphitheater. Accredited by the American Association of Museums (AAM), the Museum is dedicated to collecting, preserving, exhibiting, and interpreting these multidisciplinary offerings, which are complemented by an array of public programs that encourage creative expression, collaboration, and artistic and scientific discovery.Hours and Admission: Hudson River Museum is open to the public Thursday–Friday, 12–5pm, Saturday–Sunday, 11am–5pm. On Free First Fridays, the Museum is open and free of charge on the first Friday of the month, from 5–8pm. Mask wearing and COVID-19 vaccination are no longer required, but are recommended for all visitors. Learn more and purchase tickets at hrm.org/visit.General Admission: Adults $13; Youth (3–18) $8; Seniors (62+) $9; Students (with valid ID) $9; Veterans $9; Children (under 3) FREE; Members FREE; Museums for All* $2, *SNAP/EBT card with photo ID (up to 4 people). Planetarium tickets: Adults $7; Youth (3–18) $5; Seniors (62+) $6; Students (with valid ID) $6; Veterans $6; Children (under 3) Free. Glenview tours: Adults $7; Youth (3–18) $5; Seniors (62+) $6; Students (with valid ID) $6; Veterans $6; Children (under 3) Free. The Museum is accessible by Metro-North (Hudson Line—Yonkers and Glenview stations), by Bee-Line Bus Route #1, by car, and by bike. Make your visit a One-Day Getaway, and buy a combined rail and admission discount ticket. Learn more about Metro-North Deals & Getaways.

About Yonkers Public Library
For 130 years, The Yonkers Public Library (“YPL”) has been an essential and dynamic institution whose dedicated staff provide outstanding service, meaningful collections, and impactful programs in welcoming and inspiring spaces for the people of Yonkers. With three locations: Riverfront Library, Grinton I. Will Library, and Crestwood Library, YPL’s vision is to improve the life in Yonkers for everyone by fostering literacy, culture, connection, and community. For more information about the Yonkers Public Library, visit ypl.org.

About Yonkers Arts
The mission of Yonkers Arts is to develop a strong, effective, and cooperative network of artists,cultural organizations, and members of the community to promote and encourage the arts in the City of Yonkers. Gallery Hours: Wednesdays: 6–9pm | Thursdays: 4–7pm | Saturdays: 12–4pm.