|Sponsored by John Benizio of Metro Optics and|
Melissa Libran of Windows of Hip Hop
On Monday the 11th, four pioneers of Hip Hop made their way up to Norwood to be a part of a photo shoot and public awareness campaign, while talking about music and community today. The event was coordinated by Melissa Libran, CEO of Windows of Hip Hop (WOHH), an economic development project that promotes Hip Hop, Gino Pacheco, owner of Beso Lounge and CFO at WOHH, and sponsored by John Benizio, owner of Metro Optics.
WOHH was also celebrating their first anniversary which has been spent primarily on building a reputation and a name for themselves since last November. WOHH has hosted several youth and community forums on what Hip Hop means to people today and developed "edu-tainment" as a way to connect with children in the Bronx. As a fan of Hip Hop, a Bronxite, and a businesswoman, Ms. Libran seeks support to obtain a trailer to host a mobile, interactive exhibit and educational component based on a Hip Hop curriculum to the Bronx.
In speaking with Mr. Benizio about his sponsorship, he stated that he knew Melissa for a longtime and stressed the connection of Hip Hop and Metro Optics as being "Bronx Brands". Eye-wear such as Cazal or Gucci have long been synonymous with Hip Hop artists and both companies were contacted to model their latest frames at today's event.
So who were these Hip Hop icons? None other than Afrika Bambaataa, Melle Mel, Grand Wizzard Theodore, and Grandmaster Caz! Coming together for the first time in a few decades, they showed their support for promoting men's eye health while sporting the latest frames from Cazal and Gucci. Throughout the shoot, they also got a chance to talk about music, community, activism, and the importance of understanding the importance of true Hip Hop.
Supporting an Army Reserve uniform, Melle Mel stressed about keeping his music "...at a more mature level of what Hip Hop is, it's not like we need to blend in to what's going on. These pioneers are going to make, and build, and take a seat in Hip Hop alongside of everything else in the industry." He also stressed how these legends have stood the test of time and, "...have formed a united front to save Hip Hop from itself."
Meanwhile, Afrika Bambaataa talked about his roots, including the founding of the Universal Zulu Nation, refocusing his efforts early on and doing something positive for the community, and remembering the King (not the Godfather) of Soul, James Brown. He also took a jab at the city, "Shame on New York!" for not supporting a Hip Hop museum, especially in the Bronx.
There was also a lot of press and support from various other business also at the event, including News 12, BronxNet, and Bronx personalities such as Michael Max Knobbe, Gabrielle Williams of "The Ms. Gabie Show", Ken "Mustafa" Howell of DBNEB Music. Additionally, the Bronx's own poetic prodigy NeNe Ali was present, describing herself as a product of the pioneers of Hip Hop and has strives to uplift her community through the spoken word.
For more pictures of the event, visit our official Facebook Page!