Since hip hop was birthed within the Bronx, New York throughout the Nineteen Seventies, Rocky Bucano has been an eyewitness to the tradition’s development and improvement. He began as a teenage DJ, spinning beneath the moniker of Kool DJ Rock of the Come Off Crew. After being an in-demand DJ all through the area, he went on to develop into one in every of New York Metropolis’s most in-demand social gathering promoters curating occasions for Hip Hop legends similar to DJ Hollywood, Grandmaster Flowers, Kool DJ Dee, Eddie Cheeba, Maboya, and Grandmaster Flash.
In 1987, Bucano turned president of StrongCity Information working with Hip Hop pioneer DJ Jazzy Jay the place he helped information the careers of Grand Puba, Don Barron, Diamond D, Teddy Riley, and lots of extra. He turned the Government Vice President of Dallas Austin’s Rowdy Information earlier than changing into normal supervisor of Teddy Riley’s New Jack Swing Productions, the place he oversaw the advertising and marketing of the group multi-platinum R&B group Blackstreet.
Presently, Bucano is the President and Chairman of the Board of the Common Hip Hop Museum, the place his life’s work is to protect the tradition that he loves a lot.
EBONY spoke with Rocky Bucano about, his exceptional profession within the business, the fiftieth anniversary of Hip Hop, and the highly-anticipated opening of the Common Hip-Hop Museum.
EBONY: What was your first reminiscence of Hip Hop?
Rocky Bucano: I might say it was 1973 which was my first yr in highschool and I went to a DJ Kool Herc social gathering at a neighborhood heart. That was the primary time that I noticed Kool Herc play music and my first time seeing the B-boys going off.
As a DJ within the early days of rap music, how did information get airplay when many Black stations have been so anti-rap?
You needed to undergo Frankie Crocker. He was an excellent pal of mine, and he was the maestro of the airwaves. Again within the 70s and 80s earlier than Hip Hop was even allowed to be performed on the radio, he was in all probability the largest identify in radio at the moment. He would introduce all the brand new artists, however at the moment Disco was king. So acts like Donna Summer time, Giorgio Moroder, McFadden and Whitehead would get Frankie Crocker to interrupt their information. He was in opposition to Hip Hop to start with, however he was one of many first guys to interrupt the Sugar Hill Gang’s ‘Rapper’s Delight.” Shortly thereafter, he gave John “Mr. Magic” Rivas his massive break on WBLS, regardless of not loving Hip Hop music in any respect.
Afterward in your profession as a music govt, you labored with Dallas Austin and Teddy Riely as they each have been on their solution to changing into superproducers. How was it to look at them rise as legends in music?
I used to be there when Dalla Austin first signed Monica to his label, Rowdy Information. I additionally labored with Teddy Riley at a really younger age. He would play piano for his future brother-in-law Omar Chandler on the Apollo on “Newbie Evening” and my pal Milton Lacroix noticed him at one of many reveals as a result of he used to handle Omar. He got here to me one night time at a membership in Midtown, and stated, “Rocky, you bought to see this man. This child is taking part in the piano and he’s a genius man. He performs the piano such as you will not consider, and he is not even sufficiently old to get in a membership.” Afterward, I labored with Teddy because the supervisor for his firm, LOR Leisure, down in Virginia Seashore and New Jack Swing productions. Throughout that point, he was working with all people from Bobby Brown to Patti LaBelle to Michael Jackson.
Establishing a museum is a big endeavor, and you’re greater than certified for the duty. When did you get the thought to begin the Common Hip Hop Museum?
Kurtis Blow and I might go round to totally different conferences, attempting to pitch the thought to native elected officers and other people within the music business. It took us about one other three or 4 years to get some traction. We purchased in Michael Ford, an architect from Detroit, Michigan, to affix us within the journey and that is when the venture began to speed up as a result of Ford was ready so as to add his visible architectural expertise to our imaginative and prescient as an alternative of getting simply phrases and data on paper. We have been capable of begin exhibiting individuals what the long run museum would seem like, and that is what began to make the venture develop into plausible within the eyes of many individuals. The constructing is slated to be accomplished In 2024. It may be one of the crucial revolutionary museums in the whole world due to our partnership with Microsoft, who’s our official know-how associate.
How does it really feel to have that outpouring of assist for the museum after doing a lot groundwork?
We’ve been blessed and lucky to have the assist of our native elected officers. Mayor Eric Adams, the brand new Bronx borough president Vanessa Gibson, town council right here in New York Metropolis, the New York State Meeting, Governor Kathy Hochul, and our state senators. However by no means in my wildest goals did I feel that we’d get assist on the federal stage from two of New York’s prime senators, Majority Chief Senator Chuck Schumer and Senator Joe Brant, in addition to Congressman Jamaal Bowman. Their assist demonstrates that this venture means a lot to New York Metropolis and New York State and the native financial system. Their funding will assist us full the development, to proceed to develop our academic applications, and develop the curriculum that will likely be used to uplift the youth who dwell in our communities. It really speaks volumes about what the museum means to so many individuals.
Lastly, what would you like guests to go away with after visiting the museum as we rejoice 50 years of Hip Hop?
So many individuals assume that Hip Hop is simply rap music. Hip Hop is a residing, respiratory tradition. It is a way of life for thus many individuals dwell around the globe. What I hope individuals will get after they come to go to and expertise the museum is to have an entire understanding of what the style is, the individuals who began, the way it began, the place it began, and extra importantly, be higher knowledgeable. From politics to advancing entrepreneurship in Black and Brown communities, it has allowed youngsters and younger individuals to develop into billionaires and helped encourage Barack Obama to develop into the primary Black President of the US. Hip Hop has a chance to make use of its affect to create social change in communities which might be experiencing an absence of unity, financial inequality, gun violence, and different points. Hip Hop will be that engine to assist appropriate a few of at present’s social ills, whether or not it is right here in the US or wherever else on the planet. That is what I would like individuals who go to the museum to go away with.