Hip-Hop celebrated its 50th anniversary on Friday (August 11) with a slew of block parties that touched every borough in New York City. Beginning at 12 p.m. ET, Mill Pond Park in the Bronx—the same area where the Universal Hip-Hop Museum will open its doors in 2025—erupted with pillars and purveyors of the culture eager to participate in the momentous occasion.
Following a champagne toast at the museum’s future site—attended by Walker Wear founder April Walker, famed photographers Glen E. Friedman, Martha Cooper and Vikki Tobak, DJ Chuck Chillout, original Def Jam Recordings president Bill Stephney, Def Jam’s first publicist Bill Adler, Chuck D, Flavor Flav, MC Shan, Coke La Rock and dozens of others—everyone headed over to the park for Van Silk’s “RAPAMANIA” showcase.
Sponsored by Red Bull BC One, the UHH and AARP, the event boasted art by graffiti legends such as Lady Pink and Queen Andrea, a b-boy open cypher and music by Fearless 4, Freedom Williams, Sweet Tee and many more. One of the highlights included a performance from Chuck D, Flavor Flav, Melle Mell and Scorpio, who converged for a medley of classic rap anthems, including “The Message” (Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five) and “Fight The Power” (Public Enemy).
“This event was historical and celebrated 50 years of Hip-Hop,” organizer Van Silk tells AllHipHop. “To have 27 acts perform, including Public Enemy, Melle Mel and Scorpio (Furious 5) was historical. Along with the Universal Hip Hop Museum, Red Bull and AARP, we did it. The culture of Hip-Hop will only evolve if you represent Hip-Hop. Being a rapper in today music is not really Hip-Hop. But times change and it is what it has become.”
At one point, Chuck D—who was mobbed by people wanting to get their photo taken with the Public Enemy frontman—addressed the crowd. He delivered an impassioned plea to “free Kidd Creole.” The Kidd Creole (real name Nathanial Glover), one of the original members of the Furious Five and Melle Mel’s brother, was arrested for the 2017 fatal stabbing of a homeless man named John Jolly. In May 2022, he was sentenced to 16 years in prison, a sentence many deemed entirely too harsh. Creole was convicted of first-degree manslaughter, roughly four years after his initial arrest.
Attorney Scottie Celestin vowed to begin the appeal process. As he told Rolling Stone at the time, “I think today’s sentence is egregious and extreme. While I am disappointed, I continue to have faith in our judicial system. My focus is now on the appeal process. There are many appealable issues, specifically the denial of Mr. Glover being able to assert the justification of self-defense, despite the fact that he was retreating and the victim followed behind him.
“While some may be happy with the the presumed victory of the acquittal on the top charge of Murder, we don’t view it as win. I believe the 16 years given are heavy handed, and motivated not by the evidence and mitigating facts but by external factors.”
Kidd Creole was on his way to work when the violent run-in with Jolly took place. He told police, “He approached me. I got a little nervous. So then I tried to back up a little bit, and he moved forward, and then I just took the knife and stabbed him … I wish I never would have seen him. It’s all my fault, because I chose to stab him. I have to take responsibility for that.”
Celestin has always maintained Kidd Creole acted in self-defense and believed “his fear for his life was reasonable.” There were also various accounts suggesting Jolly didn’t actually die from the stab wounds. Instead, some think he died from a dose of the sedative benzodiazepine that was given to him at a hospital. There’s no update on whether the appeal process has begun.