BRONX HIP-HOP COLLECTIVE TO LAUNCH A ‘RADICAL’ LIBRARY FOR YOUTH
MOTT HAVEN — Rappers feed off great beats, but they’re nourished by great books.
That’s one message the hip-hop-centric Rebel Diaz Arts Collective hopes to convey to local youth with a community library they will soon run out of their headquarters in a former candy factory by the Bruckner Expressway.
“I tell them, ‘The more you read, the iller you’ll be as an emcee,’” said Rodrigo Venegas, aka Rodstarz, one-third of the rap crew, Rebel Diaz, and a founding member of the cultural collective with an activist bent.
The roughly 20-member collective has partnered with Bluestockings, the independent Lower East Side bookstore, to amass about 300 mostly donated books on radical politics, Hispanic and black history and hip hop.
By erecting the small library in the same space where it hosts monthly hip-hop open mic nights that draw rising rappers and their fans from across the city, the collective is trying to convince these young people that the slickest rhymers are often also the sharpest readers.
“If we make it cool to read books in the South Bronx,” Venegas said, “then it’s a victory.”
The Richie Perez Radical Library, named for a South Bronx educator and activist who died in 2004, combines works by influential thinker-agitators, such as Angela Davis and Malcolm X, with writings by hip-hop luminaries including KRS-One, the RZA and Jay-Z.