The man who created the Hip-Hop Hall of Fame in the 1990s is resurrecting it on 125th Street. James “JT” Thompson is scheduled to open offices and classrooms for the Hip Hop Hall of Fame Museumin Harlem next month and plans to announce the site of the actual museum at an awards ceremony being held this spring.
“I think this is a big step for the Hip-Hop Hall of Fame in establishing itself in the cultural fabric of New York City,” Thompson said, though he wouldn't elaborate on where exactly the offices and classrooms would be until their formal opening. Thompson, who was born in Bed-Stuy and grew up in Hollis and Harlem, held the first awards ceremony to induct hall of famers at the Victoria Theater in Harlem from 1995 to 1997. The venue for this spring's event is yet to be announced.
But after the high profile murders of Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G., the show, which was aired on BET and showcased hip-hop artists and raised money for the museum, was cancelled. “All advertisers left hip-hop at that point,” he said. “It was a struggle because we didn’t know what was going to happen and the show was the main driving force to raise money for the museum.”
When it opens next month, the museum’s offices and classroom will host an educational program for young adults. The first course will be on fashion and give students a chance to learn about the industry and design techniques to develop their own products and brands.
Future classes will include broadcasting, coding, production and business, Thompson said. “Hip-hop really cares,” he said. “People don’t realize that people in hip-hop have been giving back to the community for years.”
When the museum and Hall of Fame building opens later this year it will have a restaurant, sports bar, concert lounge, TV studios, and a retail shop. Proceeds from the annual award show will keep the museum and its educational component going, he added.
Thompson expects the facility to host 400,000 visitors and another 300,000 for live events each year.