Chuck D

Chuck D to Narrate Audible Series About Hip-Hop's South Bronx Origins

Chuck D to Narrate Audible Series About Hip-Hop's South Bronx Origins

Published Thu, June 1, 2023 at 9:17 AM EDT

Chuck D is set to narrate and executive produce an upcoming Audible Original series, Can You Dig It? which explores the birth of HIp-Hop in New York's South Bronx neighborhood in the early 1970s.

Per Spin, the series tells an interesting origin story. The story revolves around the killing of Cornell "Black Benjie" Benjamin, a member of the Ghetto Brothers gang, in 1971. This incident sparked the historic Hoe Avenue peace meeting and resulted in a truce between rival gangs in the South Bronx. As a result, the neighborhood became safer, and its residents started uniting as a community without the constant fear of crossing into enemy gang territories. Two years later, Kool Herc hosted his legendary back-to-school party at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue, marking the birth of the Hip-Hop era.

“During this 50th anniversary of hip-hop, we hold the attention of the planet,” Chuck D told SPIN. “Now is the time to bring out the stories of people who paved the way for hip-hop and shaped its earliest days. Two cats from the Bronx, Black Benjie and Yellow Benjy, made the impossible possible. When the city turned its back on the borough, they stepped-up to broker peace on the streets.”

Additionally, on June 2, the intersection of E. 165th Street and Rogers Place in the Bronx will be renamed Cornell “Black Benjie” Benjamin Way, in honor of the site of his murder. “If Kool Herc is considered the father of hip-hop, then my uncle was the general. My uncle was the martyr,” Benjamin’s niece, Angelique Lenox, told Spin. “He didn’t die in vain. Something good came from his death. His life mattered.”

While Chuck D will narrate, Can You Dig It? also blends scripted scenes with commentary from street photographers Joe Conzo and Henry Chalfant, MC Coke La Rock, and former Black Panther Joseph Mpa. The voice cast is comprised of talent from the Bronx and its local community arts programs.

The five-episode series will premiere on Aug. 10 in honor of Hip-Hop's 50th anniversary.

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