Hip-hop was an undeniable part of rock history that changed the musical landscape of its time, and continues to influence our music today. Like any other genre, there were certain areas and spaces that influenced how hip-hop evolved, and how it spread to become part of the mainstream music consciousness.
If you're a fan, then you certainly will have heard of many of the seminal spots that birthed hip-hop. If you're planning a trip, especially to the New York area, consider adding some of these awesome spots to your itinerary if you're looking to learn a bit more about the history and important players in the hip-hop industry.
10 Paul's Boutique Street Corner: Manhattan, NY
Located on the corner of Rivington and Ludlow, the Beastie Boys used this iconic street on the cover of their second album, Paul's Boutique. Though the titular store was fictional, a sign was posted outside for the album cover shoot, which also prominently featured the store's neighbor, Lee's Sportswear.
Though the Lower East Side corner looks completely different today, not all memories of the album are lost! In 2014, artist Danielle Mastrion painted a mural of the trio where the album was photographed, along with the iconic Paul's logo.
9 8200 Wilshire Boulevard: Beverly Hills, CA
The relatively normal office complex that operates out of the 8200 Wilshire building today once used to be a prominent place in hip-hop history.
Death Row Records was subject to much controversy and legal trouble throughout its operation as a recording studio, and creator Suge Knight is still in hot water to this day for a hit and run committed in 2015. Though the exterior looks much the same, the inside of the controversial record studio used to house graffiti-covered walls, a reptile room, and even a gym!
8 Stankonia Studios: Atlanta, GA
To casual gaze, Stankonia might just be a boring gray industrial complex, but to the hip-hop fan, it means so much more. This was the studio in which Outkast recorded some of the most well-known material, and hip-hop artists continue to book the space today to lay down their own tracks.
It doesn't seem like the studio is open for casual exploring, but if you're an artist looking for a space to work, they do rent out Stankonia for a price.
7 Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame: Cleveland, OH
This museum might be devoted to the foundations of rock and roll, but you'd be surprised to learn how many hip-hop artists have made their way into the Hall of Fame. Currently, six hip-hop acts, including Run-D.M.C., Grandmaster Flash, N.W.A., Tupac Shakur, Public Enemy, and the Beastie Boys have been inducted.
The museum examines music from a historical and cultural point of view, and features rotating exhibits that focus upon different genres and artists. There is a devoted section of the museum, entitled Rappers' Delight, that tells the story of hip-hop and its influence on the music industry.
6 Eazy-E's Memorial: Los Angeles, CA
The hip-hop community lost many of its talented musical minds too soon, and the death of N.W.A. member Eric "Eazy-E" Wright was no exception. Born and raised in California, N.W.A. was one of the groups synonymous with the West Coast, which was widely mentioned in their music. After Eazy-E passed away in 1995, there was definitely a void left in the industry.
If you'd like to pay your respects to one of hip-hop's greatest icons, his memorial is located in Rose Hill Memorial Park in Los Angeles. The inscription on Eazy-E's headstone reads as follows: "We Loved Him A Lot, But God Loved Him More."
5 Run-D.M.C. Mural: East Village, NY
Run-D.M.C. is one of the most influential hip-hop trios of all time, and they finally got a long awaited tribute last November when a mural was completed in the East Village, 16 years to the day of Jam Master Jay's death.
Gracing the corner of 12th and A, the colorful mural was painted by Brazilian artist Eduardo Kobra, and covers the side of a large building. In addition, a street was renamed in their honor in 2009 at the intersection of 205th Street and Hollis Avenue, now known as Run-D.M.C. JMJ Way.
4 Wu-Tang Clan District: Staten Island, NY
Run-D.M.C. were not the only artists who received their own street corner. In May 2019, legendary group Wu-Tang Clan, who hail from Clifton, Staten Island, attended the renaming ceremony that occurred at the corner of Vanderbilt Avenue and Targee Street, now dubbed Wu-Tang Clan District.
Ghostface Killah seemed grateful at the gesture, stating in his speech, "I never saw this day coming. I knew we were some ill MCs, but I didn't know that it'd take it this far."
3 Graffiti Hall Of Fame: East Harlem, NY
Though street art is usually frowned upon, the walls of the Jackie Robinson Educational Center have been protected by the community as graffiti landmarks since started by Sting Ray Rodriguez in 1980.
The walls are plastered with brightly colored, beautifully rendered art that covers the brick walls, and has been expanded for years. It seems that artists even travel there to work, and reviews cite astonishment at the amazing scope of the wall art!
2 1520 Sedgwick Avenue: The Bronx, NY
This 102 unit apartment complex was recognized in 2007 by the city of New York as the official birthplace of hip-hop. Though hip-hop truly evolved in various places throughout New York, 1520 Sedgwick was the site of one of the first public exhibitions of music that influenced the future of the genre.
The story goes that in 1973, DJ Kool Herc spun turntables at his sister Cindy's party in the recreation room of the complex. His friend Coke La Rock demonstrated one of the first instances of rapping known to history. The party, though fairly low key at the time, was so influential that some great figures in hip-hop later falsely claimed they were there to experience it first hand.
1 Hush Tours: New York, NY
If you're a hip-hop aficionado looking for the ultimate experience, consider trying one of the Hush Tours packages! They offer 3 or 4 hour tours that cover many of New York's important landmarks in the history of the genre. Their tours focus upon places like Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Harlem.
Led by Grandmaster Caz, Kurtis Blow, Rahiem, and Reggie Reg, these guided tours provide an all-inclusive experience and provide insight from rappers themselves. The company also offers tours in Chicago, so Illinois residents can experience was Hush has to offer.