Mural project brings hip-hop legacy to light

By Sadef Ali Kully

A new, colorful mural dedicated to the history of hip-hop culture in southeast Queens appeared on the corner of 198th Street and Hollis Avenue last week in Hollis.

The mural featured the neighborhood’s most famous 1980s hip-hop group, Run-DMC, whose members were raised in Hollis surrounded by some of the same issues that plague the world today. The mural showed the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter, education, police relations, a Muslim woman praying and on its far-left a portrait of Dollie, the owner of the deli and grocery store next to the mural.

The members of Run-DMC —Joseph Simmons, Darryl McDaniels, and Jam Master Jay — grew up together and hung out a few blocks away at Hollis Playground, known as Two-Fifths park in the Eighties.

The Hollis-raised artist behind the mural, Jocelyn Goode, started the initiative Hip-Hop Legacy of Queens last year to tell the borough’s hip-hop history through a visual narrative for future generations. Her goal is to create 10 murals across southeast Queens depicting famous hip-hop artists from their respective neighborhoods.

Goode has been raising funds on what she called “nails or hair money,” where a person would donate to her cause rather than spending it at the nail and hair salons or barber shops that week.

“Everything we have been able to do is literally because people would stop and express their feelings,” Goode said. “Whenever we needed money for more paint, it would happen naturally. Someone would stop by and just leave a couple bucks.”

For Goode, the initiative reminded her of the stone soup fable in which three men enter a village to ask for food but no one has anything to give. So they tell people they will make a stone soup. Residents begin adding vegetables to the stone soup which is able to feed the whole village at the end.

“I got everything started, but really it is a collaborative community effort,” Goode said.

Goode, who majored in fine arts at Amherst College, said the goal was to preserve the culture, revitalize neighborhoods through beautification and create jobs for young people. She would like to hire 10 artists for a paid apprenticeship to help with her murals and gain job experience.

“The artwork has become a hub and it raises different feelings for many,” she said. “Sometimes it brings the young and old together. A 15-year-old may not understand what the importance of Run-DMC was for black people, but a 45-year-old knows it all too well.”

Hip-hop artists from Queens such as Nas, Run-DMC, Salt-n-Pepa, LL Cool J, A Tribe Called Quest, Lost Boyz, KRS-1, Ja-Rule, Marley Marl, 50 Cent, Nicki Minaj, Roxanne Shante, Lloyd Bank and Russell Simmons are some of big names that hail from across the borough.

Goode, who worked with artist community projects in California, said this was a way for her to give back to her community.

“I wanted to part of coming back to where you are from.”

Goode is also raising money on a online campaign at Indiegogo website for Hip-Hop Legacy of Queens and for the artist apprenticeships while she applies for artists grants.

Her ultimate goal is to make southeast Queens a tourist attraction.

“The borough just became the No. 1 place to visit and we need to get that tourism here to learn about our rich history,” she said.

Reach Reporter Sadef Ali Kully by e-mail at skull[email protected]local.com or by phone at (718) 260–4546.

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