7 Jun
The BBC's 2004 one-hour documentary hits the interwebs

Lucky for us users of the world wide web we get to stumble across treasures like this: the BBC’s 2004 documentary Once Upon a Time in New York: The Birth of Hip Hop, Disco and Punk. As the title suggests, the one-hour documentary tells the story of how the squalid, crumbling streets of downtown New York created the perfect incubator to birth three of the most important cultural movements in America’s modern history. Sounds and movements that would go on to dominate the global cultural dialogue — and still do to this day. “Inspired by the Velvet Underground, a new wave of ‘punk’ rock emerged in lower Manhattan including The New York Dolls, The Ramones and the Patti Smith Group. Meanwhile, downtown loft parties held by gay New Yorkers heralded the birth of disco, which would eventually spawn the ultimate club for the privileged few: Studio 54. The swanky mid-town discos were out of bounds to black New York so in the Bronx DJs such as Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash and Afrika Bambaataa created their own parties, heralding the birth of hip hop.” The fairly extensive documentary features interviews with a cabal of NYC heavyweights such as Patti Smith, John Cale, Television’s Richard Hell, Grandmaster Flash, Afrika Bambaataa, Kool Herc, Nile Rodgers, Chuck D, Tommy Ramone, Blondie’s Chris Stein, Fab 5 Freddy, Nile Rodgers and David Mancuso. Of course covering 3 major musical movements in one 1-hour documentary means you can only dig so deep, but Once Upon a Time in New York does a well crafted job of showing how these seemingly disparate sub-cultures interplayed and developed from the same gritty, drug-fueled, crime-ridden streets of the 5 Burroughs.

Part 1 of the Once Upon a Time in New York: The Birth of Hip Hop, Disco and Punk below, and hit the Jump for Parts 2, 3 and 4…

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