I was somewhat conflicted about adding the above portion to the illustration. Since this artwork is more of a celebration of New York City and the beginning of hip-hop, it seemed to add this black eye. The backdrop to the origins of hip-hop was a city that was falling apart. There was high unemployment, poverty, and crime. The Bronx, specifically, had numerous abandoned buildings that were basically destroyed. Buildings were crumbling and burning. New York City was not the tourist attraction it is today.
It has been said that the 4 elements of hip-hop might not have been “invented” if conditions were not this dire. Kids found ways to express themselves artistically and creatively even though they did not have much. It was either that or become a criminal. In the end, I needed to reference this part of New York City history because I believe it was important to the birth of hip-hop. I think I spent way too much time on getting those bricks just right, but it was worth it end. Plus, it gave me the chance to add in fire escapes which was on my list of things to add.
The kids jumping on the mattress is taken from a picture I saw in another book by Martha Cooper called Hip-Hop Files. It continues to show how resourceful these kids were…they could find fun in the crumbling buildings that surrounded their neighborhood.