C.O.C.O.A. House To Celebrate 50th Anniversary of Hip-Hop

In a milestone celebration, the C.O.C.O.A. House is set to host a 50th anniversary event honoring the vibrant legacy of hip-hop. The event, slated to take place on Friday Nov. 10 at the Electric City Barn from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., will pay homage to five decades of rhythm, rhyme, and revolution that have shaped music, fashion, and art worldwide. 

Originating in the Bronx, New York, in the early 1970s, hip-hop emerged as a cultural movement encompassing elements of music, dance, art, and expression. The 50th anniversary event in Schenectady pays homage to the pioneers, innovators and artists who have propelled hip-hop to its current iconic status, commemorating its lasting impact on popular culture. The event’s theme will center around the 5 pillars of hip hop, providing a comprehensive exploration of the genre’s cultural significance. In addition, guests can look forward to a showcase of local artisans, each contributing their talents across various mediums, thus enhancing the celebration with a diverse tapestry of creative expression within the framework of the 5 Pillars of Hip-Hop.

The C.O.C.O.A. House, or Children of Our Community Open to Achievement, an organization with a storied history spanning over 27 years, remains steadfast in its commitment to community education and youth engagement. William Rivas, the executive director of C.O.C.O.A. House attended “Hip Hop 50 Live” at Yankee Stadium, an event featuring well known artists in hip-hop to celebrate the 50th anniversary. As DJ Kool Herc, who is considered the father of hip hop, did years ago to bring people together through the arts, Rivas wanted to follow in his footsteps and was inspired to bring the culture to Schenectady. 

“I was blessed to go to the Hip Hop 50th at Yankee Stadium and learn about the [beginning] of hip-hop and how it started as a way for [DJ] Kool Herc and his people to give back to the community,” Rivas said. “Its roots are deeply ingrained in who we are and the work that is still being done in our communities. The lineup for the event was chosen simply because these are people who truly embody the Pillars in which they represent.” 

The itinerary for Friday’s event is as follows: 

1. MC/Oral Pillar: Sincerely, Donnie

2. DJ/Aural Pillar: DJ Ketchup

3. Graffiti/Visual Pillar: Elona Mitchell-Strong

4. Breakdance/Physical Pillar: Alex James

5. Knowledge/Mental Pillar: C.I.T.Y.

Mitchell-Strong, a local resident who studied art therapy at SUNY Schenectady and owns a clothing brand, “2 Strong,” and co-owns Shing’s Cleaning Service, uses art and fashion to communicate her feelings. 

“Hip-hop has played a major role in my art, even to what I wear. To be in an art show for the 50th anniversary of hip-hop is simply just an honor. Hip-hop and visual art go hand in hand. In hip-hop you can feel through the words, as with art just in living color,” Mitchell-Strong said. 

Adonis Richards, or “Sincerely, Donnie,” founded the media company “Lucid Writers,” and is dedicated to the poetic community within the Capital Region. He has self-published two poetry books and collaborated in a program that educates students in Schenectady on the craft of creative writing.

“My words reach people at a frequency that resonates with them profoundly to motivate and compel them to newer heights,” Richards said. “The written word is the message, it’s the art that rappers and poets use to tell their truths, pains, and life stories. I’m bringing flavor and poetry to the table.”

Rivas said the C.O.C.O.A. House’s foundation is firmly rooted in hip-hop principles. The free event will serve as a platform for education, and offer the community an opportunity to delve into the genre’s rich history.

“I think it is a great time in our society to remind people exactly how something that started grassroots has become a culture and worldwide phenomenon,” Rivas said. “It has created financial opportunities to support community movements and change the fortunes of those coming from poverty. Hip-hop has played a pivotal role in fashion, media, food, forcing political discussions and more.”

At the event, there will be a silent auction and a donation box at the door. Rivas encourages those of all ages to engage and educate on hip-hop culture.

In advance of Friday’s event, here’s how to follow along with Rivas and the performers:

  • Rivas at @thewilliamrivas on Instagram
  • Mitchel Strong at @elona_hopeofficial on Instagram
  • Richards at @_sincerly_donnie on Instagram
  • DJ Ketchup at @DJKetchup on Facebook
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