18 vintage photos from the dawn of hip-hop in New York City

Busta Rhymes (studio)Janette Beckman/Museum Of The City Of New YorkBrooklyn, New York-native Busta Rhymes got started in hip-hop in 1989 as a member of the Leaders of the New school. They got their big break as the opening act for Public Enemy.

The culture of hip-hop began in New York City in the 1970s. Encompassing rap, deejaying, “b-boying” or breakdancing, and graffiti art, hip-hop has become a hugely influential art form.

The Museum of the City of New York is celebrating New York City’s central place in that history in its current exhibit “Hip-Hop Revolution,” featuring more than 80 photographs of 1970s and ’80s hip-hop by photographers Janette Beckman, Joe Conzo, and Martha Cooper.

The Museum has shared a number of the photos with us here, and you can check out more by visiting their website or heading to the museum.

DJ Tony Tone, left, was a founding member of the Cold Crush Brothers, a Bronx hip-hop group that formed in 1979. DJ Kool Herc, right, is often credited as the starting point of hip-hop. Herc pioneered the use of hard funk and Latin percussion records in deejaying, which formed the basis of hip-hop.

Joe Conzo/Museum Of The City Of New York

DJ Charlie Chase was a founding member of the Cold Crush Brothers. He is credited with making Latinos a force in the Bronx hip-hop scene. Here he is performing at Norman Thomas High School in Manhattan.

Joe Conzo/Museum Of The City Of New York

Almighty Kay Gee began as a break-dancer before joining the Cold Crush Brothers in 1979. This is Kay Gee performing with the group at Harlem World.

Joe Conzo/Museum Of The City Of New York

Jerry Dee Lewis, or JDL, was also a member of the Cold Crush Brothers.

Joe Conzo/Museum Of The City Of New York

JDL, right, and Grandmaster Caz, another member of the Cold Crush Brothers, perform at Club Negril. Grandmaster Caz now hosts Hush Hip-Hop Tours in New York City.

Joe Conzo/Museum Of The City Of New York

Charlie Ahearn, second from left, is an American film director who rose to prominence documenting hip-hop culture in New York City in the ’70s. This is Ahearn shooting Wild Style, a 1983 film about hip-hop at the time.

Joe Conzo/Museum Of The City Of New York

Chuck D. helped form the politically and socially conscious rap group Public Enemy. He’s one of the most influential MCs.

Public Enemy Chuck D NYC 1987

Janette Beckman/Museum Of The City Of New York

Before his years on VH1 reality shows, Flavour Flav became famous as a member of Public Enemy. He’s known for popularizing the role of the hype man, whose job is to excite the crowd with call-and-responses.

Pubic Enemy Flava Flav NYC 1987

Janette Beckman/Museum Of The City Of New York

Eric B & Rakim have been called “the most influential DJ/MC combo in contemporary pop music, period,” by Tom Terrell of NPR. They hail from Queens and Long Island, New York, respectively.

Eric B & Rakim NYC 1987

Janette Beckman/Museum Of The City Of New York

LL Cool J started out in 1984 recording for Def Jam Records. His deejay at the time was Cut Creator, seen on LLCool J’s right. The other two are E-Love and B-Rock.

LL Cool J 2

Janette Beckman/Museum Of The City Of New York

Queen Latifah made her name as one of hip-hop’s premier female emcees, rapping about issues like domestic violence, harassment, and relationships.

Latifah

Janette Beckman/Museum Of The City Of New York

Salt-N-Pepa is a hip-hop trio from Queens. They were one of the first all-female rap groups.

S&P WHITE BGROUND

Janette Beckman/Museum Of The City Of New York

EPMD is one of the longest-running groups in hip-hop, staying active for the majority of their 29 years of existence. Made up of Erick Sermon and Parrish Smith, the group hails from Brentwood, New York.

EPMD Babylon Long Island 1989

Janette Beckman/Museum Of The City Of New York

Rammellzee, left, was a visual artist, graffiti writer, and hip-hop musician. He was one of the original hip-hop artists in the early 1980s. Fab 5 Freddy was a graffiti artist and musician who became well known as the first host of Yo! MTV Raps. Rammellzee died in 2010.

RAMMELLZEE &FAB 5 FREDDIE, 1982

Janette Beckman/Museum Of The City Of New York

Afrika Bambaata is a deejay from the South Bronx. He is known as the Godfather of hip-hop and electro-funk. He also formed the hip-hop awareness group the Universal Zulu Nation.

AFRIKA BAMBBATAA, BRONX 1983

JJanette Beckman/Museum Of The City Of New York

Big Daddy Kane began his career as a member of the Juice Crew. Rolling Stone called him “a master wordsmith of rap’s late-golden age and a huge influence on a generation of MCs.”

Big Daddy Kane NYC 1988

Janette Beckman/Museum Of The City Of New York

KRS-One, left, and Scott La Rock both began as members of Boogie Down Productions. After the release of their first album, Scott La Rock was killed. KRS-One continued the group.

BDP scott la rock and KRS1.NYC 1987

JJanette Beckman/Museum Of The City Of New York

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