Having been away for a bit from the Mexican hip hop scene while becoming ABD (all but dissertation) this year, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I headed to the Bronx for a Sunday evening hip hop show. Har’d Life Art Collective no longer had their larger space in south park slope and so had moved their operations to La Jungla in the South Bronx just east of Yankee Stadium. The collaboration seems to be a good one. Despite rough appearances, the downstairs space provides insulation for the music to play as loud as they please. It also provides cleaner bathrooms and a small makeshift bar.
Either way, the spirit that first made me fall in love with this community remained true. Sometimes "underground” can have a negative connotation especially when it is presented by heavily tattooed men of color, but events like these are about sharing music and art. Rapping, tattooing, airbrushed art are all a part of these often marathon events in which community and artists appreciate each others’ work and also, enjoy some relaxation away from the NYC grind. Here, they have carved a little home away from home in which acceptance and an open mind is the only rule for entrance (that and $5 cover).
About 100 people passed through at different points in the night and the crowd was increasingly more diverse than I have seen at previous events. Women, rockers, and hip hops of other backgrounds came through to check things out, and it was an impressive turnout for a Sunday night when most of us have to work the next morning.
I’m excited for the next event, gracias Har’d Life - QUE VIVA LA RAZA!
Melissa Castillo-Garsow is a Mexican American poet, fiction writer, scholar, hip hop head, former journalist, current essayist & editor working on a lot of cool stuff. She proudly lives in East Harlem. Learn more about her here.