The South Bronx will forever remain the birthplace of hip-hop, and these days the New York City borough is still facilitating the movement. A reporter from the NY Daily News went deep and found a new crew called the Rebel Diaz Arts Collective. Two years ago they finally launched the first hip-hop community center to grace the Bronx in years.
"Hip-hop started in the Bronx, but the Bronx had no hip-hop community center," said Rodrigo Venegas, one of the Chilean brothers that started Rebel Diaz, and also fronts a hip-hop group that goes by the same name. "We wanted to give young people a space to learn and perform."
Now, nearly every single day, their space is filled with rhymers, DJs and singers. The owners take pride in their creation, as the kids are both getting things done and staying off of the neighborhood's still rough-and-tumble streets. "We keep people out of trouble," explained YC the Cynic, a 20-year-old rapper from Hunts Point. "You learn things here you don't learn at school."
A final issue with community centers is the ability to actually stay open and serve demand. City Councils across the country are cutting services to programs like this due to budget constraints, but Rebel Diaz Arts Collective has done such good work that they've received a $35,000 grant from the local Union Square Awards to keep things up and running. The crew plans to add new workshops with the money. That, combined with selling mixtapes and t-shirts while employing unpaid volunteers, should keep the space open for the future.
"When we first got here, it looked like a bomb had been dropped," said Circa '95 member Patty Dukes. "We worked hard to make it what it is today."
Watch Rebel Diaz's 'Libertad'