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Hip-Hop Founding Fathers Consider Starting Campus Where Art Form Can Be Studied

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Some of hip-hop's founding fathers say that the genre they started is now all about lavish spending, drugs and objectifying women, and they want to change that misconception. One way they're thinking of doing that is by starting a hip-hop campus where the art form can can be studied, learned and preserved. NY1's Erin Clarke filed the following report.

It was a genre that grew out of many others.

"It was jazz. It was Bob James' jazz," said Melvin "Grandmaster Melle Mel" Glover. "'Honky Tonk Woman' by The Rolling Stones. It was rock."

These men and others growing up in the Bronx in the '70s made it their own. It became known as hip-hop, a name that not only described a genre of music, but also a culture.

"Waking to the store and seeing the guys on the corner do-wopping and freestyling and then going to the train stations and seeing the graffiti on the trains, and walking to the parks and seeing the b-boys b-boying on linoleum," said Theodore "GrandWizzard Theodore" Livingston.

The art form gave those living in neighborhoods with abandoned buildings, crime and poverty a means of escape in more ways than one.

"Before hip-hop, I was just a little kid living up the block somewhere, and if I wasn't doing this, I'd probably be in jail somewhere," Grandmaster Melle Mel said.

But hip-hop culture has changed, and these founders say it hasn't changed for the better.

They say that an emphasis on lavish spending, drugs and sex has given hip-hop a bad rap.
They want to help change that by opening a campus that they call "Windows of Hip-Hop."

"A learning center where kids from young can come in and not just learn about hip-hop, but like I said, learn about life through hip-hop," said Curtis "Grandmaster Caz" Brown.

The campus would also offer scholarships and have a museum.

While the idea is still in its infancy, the pioneers have great expectations.

"What we want to try to do with the actual building is to make it so unique that it would be a landmark, like rivaling Yankee Stadium," Grandmaster Melle Mel said.

For now, an executive team is scoping out potential locations and trying to gain support from the community, business partners and legislators. Still, Windows of Hip-Hop has a long way to go. The group hopes to see it open in five to seven years.

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