Though New York has given birth to any number of musical movements, it’s only the last 30 years that have given rise to Hip-Hop, arguably one of the more defining cultural movements of the late 20th and early 21st Century. Though Hip-Hop is alive and well in New York City, it’s not necessarily something that’s easy to pinpoint on a map for out-of-town visitors, especially not like the Empire State Building or Central Park.
Yet a new interactive online database, called Bronx Rhymes, promises to challenge this assumption. The new project takes a closer look at the Bronx, the Borough best known for jumpstarting the movement, categorizing some of the most famous places and people on an interactive map. A corresponding poster has been placed at the physical location of each map point in the Bronx, offering details of what happened there. Visitors can respond to the poster with their mobile phone by SMS, offering a comment on what they’ve read or providing a hip-hop “rhyme” of their own for inclusion in a database.
Anyone interested in learning more about hip-hop luminaries like Afrika Bambaataa, DJ Kool Herc or KRS-One can find the artists’ entries listed on the website, along with the text message comments of anyone who’s contributed. For instance, an entry for DJ Kool Herc reads, “he was kool like a king threw one two punches in the hip hop ring.” It’s an interesting and participatory approach to creating a tour guide, one that is just as dependent on the input of the visitors as it is on the project’s original designers. It works especially well for Hip-Hop, a movement that is highly dependent on the remixing and blending of sounds and voices for inspiration. And with high-powered mobile phones and Google Maps becoming ever-more pervasive, we can expect to see more of these type of tourist mash-ups coming soon to a vacation hotspot near you.