No summer can be properly topped off without a back-to-school jam, and the summer of 1973 was no exception. On August 11 of that year, a party at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in The Bronx transcended from moment to movement: it was the birth of hip-hop, ushered in by the beats of its forebear, DJ Kool Herc. While hip hop has grown far beyond its roots, this day has proven pivotal to its fate and future as a genre.
44 years to the day, we had the honor of celebrating and hosting Diggin’ Thru the Crates’ debut New York event at Beyond Studios. As attendees were treated to by-request sets by Bronx-bred legend, Lord Finesse, Hot 97’s Peter Rosenberg and resident DJ Alizay, they also had the opportunity to browse through vintage vinyl and magazines.
For event curators, Matt Talley, Paris Cole & SHATiFF, this hands-on approach has been central to Diggin’ Thru the Crates. “What we’ve learned is that there’s a new generation that hasn’t experienced the nostalgia of digging through vinyl, being exposed to old magazines and that hip-hop culture,” Paris said. “We’re bringing that back to the forefront.”
This sense of nostalgia is vital for legendary producer Lord Finnesse, who got his start sampling with the Diggin’ In The Crates Crew. “To advance, elevate and innovate the culture, you’ve got to know the origins,” he said. “That’s the most important part of hip hop to me, to be educated. One thing that kills me is when I’m asking somebody about hip hop and they say the past doesn’t matter. You know, you can’t get into any type of field or genre without knowing about the past.”
Though certainly a celebration of hip hop, Diggin’ Thru the Crates was a tribute to vinyl that birthed the genre, and to those that choose to preserve analog djing in spite of the draw of digital. “There is an inherent of care associated with vinyl that is different,” said Hot 97’s Peter Rosenberg, who got his start spinning records at his college radio station. “As things became easier and easier, one’s commitment to vinyl showed a level of commitment to the craft in general; wanting to go the extra mile for djing, for the essence of what it was all about. I think it makes it a special sort of thing, knowing that someone spent that additional time, money and effort.”
With the success of past events, it is clear that that something special really translates. And with the blessings of legends like Rosenberg and Lord Finesse, Matt Talley and Paris hope to bring Diggin’ Thru the Crates to eager ears wherever they can be found: “I would love to see Diggin Thru’ The Crates anywhere that there’s a love of hip hop, and that’s universal,” Matt said. “ I want this to go all over the world, not just the country, to all these places where people wouldn’t really know there are hip-hop lovers. I really want to reach everybody that loves the music that saved my life.”