The Universal Hip Hop Museum, which will be part of Bronx Point, a new mixed-use development with affordable housing in the South Bronx, is not scheduled to open until 2025. But that hasn’t stopped Rocky Bucano, the museum’s executive director, from celebrating hip-hop’s 50th anniversary this year.
“[R]Evolution of Hip Hop,” an exhibition tracing the genre’s momentum from 1986 to 1990, will offer free admission this August in honor of the anniversary. The show is running through September at the nonprofit’s temporary headquarters in the Bronx Terminal Market.
Mr. Bucano, 63, lives in the Clason Point section of the Bronx with his wife, Kim, 62, who recently retired as a public-school teacher, and the younger of their two sons, Kylerr, 31. Rounding out the household are Tangy, the family’s Bichon Frisé mix, and Toby, a former stray cat.
6 IN THE MORNIN’ I get up around 6 or 7 a.m. and open up my Microsoft Surface Duo 2. I scroll through emails and read the Sunday edition of The Times. I do this in bed very quietly. I’m trying not to wake my wife up.
THE MESSAGE Around 8 or 10 o’clock, we normally order pancakes and scrambled eggs and maybe some corned beef hash from the Crosstown Diner. We have our breakfast watching the Sunday news. I like the political talk shows, like “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.” My wife watches Channel 12, which has news on the Bronx, religiously. After that, we try to get our spiritual vibe on by watching Joel Osteen.
IN DA CLUB The exhibit at the Bronx Terminal Market opens at 1 p.m. My son Kylerr and I usually jump in the car and shoot over there. He oversees social media for the museum and is a docent. Most of the time, I’m there all afternoon. I’m meeting with people — our visitors, our guests. Sometimes I’m working with the people who work at the museum, making sure everything is tight in terms of telling the stories of the different artifacts people are looking at. Sometimes I’ll jump on the turntables if I feel like playing music.
SUPA DUPA FLY On Sundays we have a visiting D.J., Cutman LG. He’s part of our team and he’s always playing great music: James Brown and a lot of classic hip-hop like Run-DMC, LL Cool J, Salt-N-Pepa. When people come in, not only do they see objects about the great golden era of hip-hop, they actually feel it and experience what the music was like.
PEOPLE EVERYDAY Being here on a Sunday is work, but it doesn’t feel like work. I’ve been a part of this project from the beginning, since we first started looking for locations in 2014. It’s part of my DNA now. It’s who I am. And I enjoy meeting people from different parts of the country and different parts of the world and learning what their connection to hip-hop is. Each person has a unique story about how they fell in love with it. Sometimes it’s the first record they bought, sometimes it’s a Run-DMC concert they went to in 1986. I remember when I bought my first Salt-N-Pepa CD. That’s what got me involved in loving the music.
ROCK BOX People from Europe come over here because they’re true fans of classic hip-hop and they want to relive the earliest years. On weekdays, we have teachers bringing their students. Kids come in, and many have never seen a cassette player or a vinyl. They don’t know what a boom box is. We have a huge boom box, and when they see it they’re like, “What is that? Why do they call it a boom box?” So it’s just a lot of feel-good moments for me. I see people smiling and doing their selfies.
IT’S TRICKY When I began this journey, I wasn’t really astute in what’s called “the museum experience.” I’ve been learning on the job. The first exhibit was bare-bones. The second one we fine-tuned, made it a better experience in terms of how it was curated. And now, with this third exhibit, I think we’ve knocked it out of the park. It’s the most immersive, the most entertaining, the most informative. I would say the number one thing people like right now is the Dapper Dan Lounge, where we have a couple of his original jackets, or the D.J. booth.
PUSH IT! When I get home, I might go to the gym in our community’s clubhouse and lift some weights, or sometimes I’ll walk down to the water. One of the ferry stops is not too far from where we live, so I’ll go down there and stand by the water and enjoy the sights. It’s a way of putting everything in perspective for me.
RAPPER’S DELIGHT For dinner on Sundays we like to order turkey wings from a soul food restaurant. We’ll also get collard greens, and for my son, mac and cheese. I can’t eat that stuff, but I love sweet potatoes. After dinner I’m normally on my computer, emailing, sending notes to my team, looking out for anything on social media I should be paying attention to. People say I work too much.
IT WAS A GOOD DAY I might watch some film on Netflix or Amazon Prime, but I go to bed early. My wife comes to bed late because she’s retired. But at 10 o’clock I say, “I’ll see you later, I’m going to sleep.” And that’s it.