Smithsonian declares the Bronx a ‘Place of Invention’

bronx hip-hop
Portrait of Grandmaster Flash (standing, with arms up) and the Furious Five, New York, December 1980. Credit: Anthony Barboza/Getty Images.

An upcoming exhibit being planned for the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center in Washington, D.C. will honor the Bronx as a “Place of Invention,” the NY Daily News reported.

The homage recognizes the Bronx as a birthplace of hip-hop.

“We wanted to show that it’s not just a single inventor who creates something, but really a community that creates the right recipe for an invention,” said curator Laurel Fritzsch, who is responsible for for the Bronx portion of the exhibit.

Th exhibit, set to open in spring 2015 at the Lemeson Center at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. will feature relics like boomboxes, vinyl records, hip hop flyers and videos, as well as a turntable that belonged to Grandmaster Flash and a lamppost powering music systems as a throwback to an old practice of hotwiring streetlamps to power sound equipment.

Flash famously created his own crossfader using spare parts. Fritzsch cited this kind of ingenuity as part of the reason for featuring the Bronx in the exhibit.

“Modern mixers and a lot of the speakers and sound systems came out of what [early DJs] created,” she said.

Visitors will also be able to try their hand at scratching and mixing.

Grand Wizzard Theodore, credited with inventing scratching said, “I think it’s really cool that they’re doing something like this.”

“Scratching plays such a major part in DJing,” he said. “It gives you the chance to express yourself, the chance to get into mixing. It’s just so important no matter the genre of music you’re into.”

 

Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat


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