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Queens native LL Cool J’s Rock the Bells festival featuring stellar lineup of hip-hop royalty returning to Forest Hills Stadium

Aug. 2, 2023 By Bill Parry

Queens will become the center of the hip-hop universe this week with the return of LL Cool J’s Rock The Bells festival at Forest Hills Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 5, featuring performances by Queen Latifah, Method Man and Redman, Ludacris, Salt-n-Pepa, De La Soul, Big Daddy Kane, Brand Nubian, Monie Love and Black Sheep, among other legends.

For St. Albans’ favorite son LL Cool J, the founder and CEO of Rock The Bells, the stellar lineup is part of a citywide recognition of the 50th anniversary of the genre

“This is a special year for the culture and for Rock The Bells in curating this experience, bringing together the icons of Hip-Hop,” he said announcing the Forest Hills Stadium event. “I’m doing this for Queens, for NYC, and for the Hip-Hop culture. There’s no better place for me to perform during this moment in Hip-Hop than my hometown.”

It will also be a homecoming for Sandra Dayton and Cheryl James, who became friends while attending Queensborough Community College in 1985 before forming Salt-n-Pepa. The origins of hip-hop in the borough are the subject of Queens Public Library’s star-studded, two-day summit on Aug. 3 and 4 at the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center in Long Island City. Guest speakers will include rappers Darryl McDaniels of Hollis legends Run-DMC and KRS-One.

Queens Public Library Hip Hop co-ordinator Ralph McDaniels emcees a two-day summit at the Laguardia Performing Arts Center in Long Island City.Courtesy of QPL

“Recognizing, celebrating and preserving hip-hop, as well as exploring its roots, influence and impact, are critical to understanding the history of New York City, our nation, and entire generations that connect and express themselves through this cultural phenomenon,” Queens Public Library President and CEO Dennis M. Walcott said. “We are thrilled to host the Hip Hop 50 Summit in the borough of Queens, which has played a significant role in hip hop’s rise from a local art form to a global movement.”

And who better to guide the retrospective than “Uncle Ralph” himself, Ralph McDaniels, the borough’s own curator of the culture as QPL Hip Hop Coordinator and founder of Video Music Box. McDaniels will emcee the two-day event that features panel discussions, interactive workshops, exhibits, augmented reality experiences, open mic sessions and DJ sets.

McDaniels will share his knowledge of the genre at the QPL summit.Courtesy of QPL

“I am very excited about the Hip Hop 50 Summit,” McDaniels said. “The conversation and agenda will cover all five decades of hip-hop culture and its core elements – DJing, MCing, breakdancing, graffiti art and knowledge. The summit will celebrate hip hop legacy, but more importantly, it will create a space to exchange ideas, while also becoming a lasting resource on the subject for the future.”

For more information on the summit, visit here.

McDaniels is also lending his expertise to a dedicated content hub and interactive map from NYC Tourism + Conventions that serves as a guide for visitors to plan hip-hop exploration at locations across all five boroughs. The hub features interviews with “Uncle Ralph” on the rise of the culture in Queens and the rest of the boroughs.

McDaniels is also featured on the city’s new dedicated content hub and an interactive map that guides visitors to venues across the five boroughs that are celebrating the 50th anniversary of hip hop.Courtesy of NYC Tourism + Conventions

“New York City is the official birthplace and center of hip-hop culture, from the music to its global influence on art, fashion, dance, language and more,” NYC Tourism + Conventions President and CEO Fred Dixon said. “Hip-hop has made a lasting impact on New York City’s culture that can be experienced across all five boroughs, and we’re excited to bring that to life at NYCtourism.com through our dedicated content hub — our love letter to hip-hop in NYC.”

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