hip-hop, NYPL

New York Public Library Celebrates 50 Years Of Hip-Hop With Limited Edition Library Cards

Hip-hop started in the Bronx borough of New York City 50 years ago, and the New York Public Library system joins the Queens Public Library in doing its part to join in the celebration.

Starting on July 14, 2023, in recognition of the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, The New York Public Library (NYPL) and Queens Public Library (QPL) are releasing special limited edition library cards designed by the Shirt Kings, legendary artists in New York hip-hop. 

The Shirt Kings started making custom-designed shirts in 1986 when hip-hop started taking off nationally.

Meanwhile, the NYPL card will showcase the iconic “Wild Style” mural from the original soundtrack of the 1983 film.

In an interview with BLACK ENTERPRISE, legendary hip-hop video host Ralph McDaniels of Video Music Box, who is also Queens Public Library’s hip-hop coordinator, discussed how the limited library cards came into existence to celebrate hip-hop’s 50th anniversary.

“So our card is designed by Legendary Shirt Kings from Queens. They’ve done custom-made for artists like Jay-Z, Nas, 3rd Bass, and many other legendary artists. They’re still in the community; we wanted local artists to create it. And I thought they would be the best because of their history with hip-hop. The card will be released on July 13, 2023, limited and then July 14, 2023, throughout our whole library system to our 66 library branches.”

“Brooklyn is doing something with Jay-Z, but I don’t really know exactly what they’re doing ’cause it’s a secret.”

On July 13, 2023, Queens Central Library (located at 89-11 Merrick Boulevard in Jamaica) is hosting an official card release party with the Shirt Kings, McDaniels, and specially invited hip-hop artists from Queens. At the event, early access to the cards will be available.

“Uncle Ralph” also appreciates the hip-hop culture’s contribution to the world. Making its way to become the most prominent genre of music was no easy feat, and the celebration of the culture is good for the country.

“We’re celebrating 50 years. It’s a milestone we should look at it as a very important one for something that started with nothing and became the biggest genre of music in the world. And I’m excited, you know, it’s not just for the pioneers. It’s for young kids. They have to understand that. I don’t care if you’re into drill music. Whatever you’re into, this is ours. It’s a New York thing. We started this, and now it’s everywhere. And it’s around the world.”

McDaniels also recognizes that the genre has produced many entrepreneurs and made someone like Jay-Z, a billionaire. Artists like 50 Cent, Will Smith, and Ice Cube are making significant contributions in other fields outside of hip-hop. The next 50 years should bring about more changes and innovation while giving a voice to the youth and those who choose to indulge in the hip-hop culture.