(Above) The Legendary Cold Crush Brothers ©Joe Conzo
Based in New York, Sedgwick & Cedar celebrates innovation and creativity across multiple cultures. Originally formed as a way to celebrate Hip Hop’s earliest roots, the company has branched out to capture the excitement and relentless creativity found in emerging genres of the 1970s, 1980s New York.
At the tail end of summer, on August 11, 1973, neighborhood kids crowded into a small rec room at 1520 Sedgwick Ave in the Bronx to hear DJ Kool Herc spin. Eventually it got too packed to move, and the party headed down the block to Cedar Park. On that epic night Hip Hop culture was born. The Sedgwick & Cedar brand celebrates this humble birthplace and creative spirit. We pay homage to the genre, culture and innovation of the movement through exclusive designs that deliver history in every stitch.
Sedgwick & Cedar gives back to the often overlooked founders of the movement by providing royalties from S&C proceeds. Pioneers behind the brand include such legends as DJ Kool Herc, Grandmaster Caz, Afrika Bambaataa, Grand Wizzard Theodore, Coke La Rock, Sha-Rock, Melle Mel and Chief Rocker Busy Bee.
All items are available through hand-selected boutiques and online via sc73.com. Each article is limited-edition and incorporates iconic photography and art from now-timeless images by Jamel Shabazz and Joe Conzo as well as pristine reproductions of some of the original party flyers.
Sedgwick & Cedar’s mission is to reintroduce the rich, positive and often forgotten history of Hip Hop culture to a modern global audience.
Afrika Bambaataa survived the ruthless streets of the South Bronx in the late 60’s and early 70’s. He lived in the legendary Bronx River Projects and rose to divisional gang leader of the Black Spades. After a life changing visit to Mother-Africa, he decided to use his street leadership to turn those involved in gang life into something positive through Hip Hop. This began his development of the Universal Zulu Nation, a group of racially and politically aware people involved in Hip Hop culture. He would go on to become one of the most important and beloved international leaders of the late 20th century through the UZN movement which combined Hip Hop Culture, Peace, Justice and Knowledge. His name Bambaataa, which translates to “affectionate leader,” was influenced by the bravery of the Zulu warriors which resisted the oppressive British troops.
By 1977, Bambaataa had begun organizing block parties all around the South Bronx. He became known as “Master of Records” and his collection was more than 20,000 records strong. In 1982, he released the groundbreaking hit “Planet Rock”. The song melded never heard before electronic Hip Hop beats with Kraftwerk’s Trans-Europe Express creating a new style of music altogether, called electro-funk.
Busy Bee changed the game forever when he became Hip Hop’s first solo MC! (why is this being exclaimed?) The DJ was the original royalty of Hip Hop, and the MC was only his side-man…his $20 a night help. This was not happening for long with Busy Bee. The Original Chief Rocker took the Mic from behind the tables and brought it to the crowd. Because of Busy Bee, the Mic has NEVER gone back. He earned his legendary reputation as The Original Chief Rocker with his ability to get the party started and keep the people rockin with his legendary shout-outs. He rocked the early block parties and park jams of the South Bronx with Cool DJ AJ, who later worked the wheels of steel for Kurtis Blow. He was a pioneer of early emcee battles around New York that drew huge crowds and won the MC World Supremacy Battle Belt. Busy Bee was involved in one of the most infamous battles in Hip Hop history against the legendary Kool Moe Dee. Thousands of copies of this battle continue to be circulated on the streets more than twenty years later.
COKE LA ROCK
Coke La Rock is considered the first true MC in Hip Hop history. While DJ Kool Herc was laying the foundation of Hip Hop culture at 1520 Sedgwick Ave and Cedar Park, he brought from his native Jamaica the elements of early dub music, among them toasting over an instrumental beat. DJ Kool Herc’s parties became so legendary that he later turned his full attention to DJing and let his man Coke La Rock handle the mic. This was Hip Hop’s first taste of an MC. Coke La Rock began rocking the crowd by doing a sort of swift, rhythmic speech over the funk, disco and soul tracks that Kool Herc was spinning. By 1975, Coke La Rock had become known as one of the most prominent MCs on the New York scene. Later Coke La Rock and (the original) DJ Clark Kent shared the mic to form Kool Herc and The Herculords.
Coke La Rock adds…”Kool Herc was creating a whole new type of party vibe combining the funky beats and the mic together. I realized that people would not only get down to the music but go-off when I would rap over the record Herc was playing.”
The Father of Hip Hop Culture was born in West Kingston Jamaica and emigrated to the Bronx in 1967 at 12 years old. On August 11, 1973 he DJ’d a back to school party for his sister Cindy in the community Rec room at 1520 Sedgqick Ave. This humble event would put the term “Boogie Down” in the Bronx and change the world forever. DJ Kool Herc performed the ground breaking art form of the Merry-Go-Round using two Turntables at one time. Herc extended the funky break beats by isolating and repeating them over an over on the Original 1’s and 2’s of Hip Hop. He tapped his Jamaican roots where Island DJs at yard party’s would toast individuals…Herc used the Mic to move the original house party with shout-outs over the records, which began the element of MCing. His parties also featured a new style of dance where people would up-rock or hit the ground to go off. Herc named these young cats “b-boys”.
Herc’s massive sound system, named the “Herculords” were legendary. Kool Herc would drive the Herculords around in his convertible moving Hip Hop to one street, one hood and one borough at a time. Soon Kool Herc had to move the party outside from 1520 Sedgwick Ave. to Cedar Park, and hot wired a street lamp to power his Herculord speakers. Three thousand people showed up in complete darkness that summer night.
Grandmaster Caz was born and bred in the Boogie Down Bronx. Originally known as Casanova Fly, he became the first simultaneous DJ and MC in Hip-Hop history. He was a lyrical genius and became forever known as “The Live Rhyme Master”. Battle tested, he was one of the streets favorite MC’s. Unfortunately, the greatest economic injustice in Hip Hop history was committed to him by Sugar Hill Records when his rhymes, used by Big Bank Hank in Sugar Hill Gang’s Rapper’s Delight, Hip Hop’s first super hit, were used without credit or payment. Even his name was pilfered: “Check it out…I’m the C-A-S and the N-OV-A and the rest is F-L-Y.”. This injustice could not hold him down as his legend grew more in the streets and parks where he was elevated to the title of “Grand Master”. Grandmaster Caz joined the Legendary Cold Crush Brothers circa 1978. They were a super group that featured three MC’s rhyming simultaneously with not one but two DJ’s. Cold Crush inspired the likes of Run DMC, Kool Moe Dee, Biz Markie, Doug E. Fresh, LL Cool J, KRS-1, Chuck D, Will Smith, Fat Joe, Jay-Z and countless other MC’s.
As a young prodigy on the turntable Grand Wizzard Theodore invented two of the most dominant DJ techniques in history: the needle drop and the scratch. Other DJ’s would use their headset to find the beat and than cut over from one record to another. Theodore was such a master of the grooves in the vinyl with incredible timing and sight that he would drop the needle flawlessly on the break beat while the album was still spinning.
In 1975, while still known as little Teddy, he created “The Scratch” at only 13 years old. After school, while in his room, Theodore was practicing on the tables when his mom came home. The music was so loud that when she yelled to turn it down he could not hear her. He was immersed in the beat of the song Bongo Rock. She came storming into his room yelling to turn that music down. This time he heard her but he did not want to lose the beat. So while mom’s kept screaming he coolly slid the record back and forth to keep the beat. In his ear phones he heard the first sounds of scratching. He immediately knew he had something. He spent hours, days and weeks perfecting the scratch in his room. When he was finally ready to unveil this technique he did so at a Bronx house party in 1975. He blew peoples minds when they first heard the scratch. He literally made the turn table an instrument unique to Hip Hop.
Melle Mel is recognized as The God-Father of Rhyme. He was the first MC to explode in a new rhyme cadence which remains the foundation of rhyming to this very day. Melle Mel joined Keith Cowboy Wiggins, his brother Kidd Creole, and eventually Rahiem and Scorpio to construct the Furious Five. They would become the first Hip Hop super group with an immeasurable impact when they recorded, “The Message,” in 1982. “The Message” changed the face of rap forever. While the masses had grown accustomed to pop rhymes like, “Throw ya hands in the air”, Melle Mel went off about the harsh realities of ghetto life, “Don’t Push Me Cause/I’m Close to the Edge/I’m Tryin’ Not To Lose My Head”, “It’s like a jungle out there/it makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under”. Between 1979 to 1984, Melle Mel was untouchable with hits on the streets. Although it was under the banner Grand Master Flash and The Furious Five, it was well known that Melle Mel was the principle writer behind the hits, “Super Rappin’”, “Freedom”, “White Lines” and “The Message”.
In 1977 at only 16, Sha-Rock did the unthinkable when she took the mic and became the first female MC when she joined (all male) The Funky Four. This was inconceivable at the time. Not only did she MC but she also battled head to head with Melle Mel and the Furious Five. Sha-Rock had a smooth style, flawless delivery and fly rhymes. She earned the respect as one of the best male or females to ever touch the mic. Sha-rock and The Funky Four Plus 1 released “Rapping and Rocking The House” the longest Hip Hop record ever (15 minutes). Another historic contribution made by Sha-rock to Hip Hop culture was the night The Funky Four Plus 1 introduced Hip Hop for the first time on National TV when she performed “That’s The Joint” on Saturday Night Live, February 14th, 1981 with Blondie.