"We are in the Boogie Down Bronx, we're kicking off homecoming week with hip hop," said Ralph Daniels, host of Video Music Box, who MC'd Monday's show, which featured performances by artists including Slick Rick, Melly Mel, and DJ Hollywood.
The show marks a comeback moment in a number of ways. This week's concerts, culminating in a massive show in Central Park on Saturday, are a celebration of the progress the city has made in the fight against the coronavirus.
But show producer Tina Marie Tyler said the concert is also very much about celebrating the return of live entertainment.
"COVID-19 has decimated the entertainment industry, especially live entertainment," Tyler said. "So one of the things we are trying to show today is New York is back, not only is New York back, hip hop is back, it never left."
Hip hop artist Melly Mel couldn't wait to get back on stage.
"It means a lot just to come in contact with people and hear the crowds, it's the thing that keeps me young," he said.
About 5,000 tickets were distributed for the show. Attendees were required to show proof of either at least one vaccination shot or a negative PCR test.
Mayor Bill de Blasio joined other elected officials at the concert kickoff on Monday night.
"COVID knocked us down but COVID cannot stop us," he declared to the audience.
But with the delta variant of the virus driving a new surge in cases in the city, we asked him whether the celebration was premature.
"No, we are coming back, we are definitely coming back," he said. "You can feel it especially in the Bronx tonight."
The hip hop concerts continue throughout the week:
- Tuesday, Aug. 17, 4 p.m. at Midland Beach on Staten Island
- Thursday, Aug. 19, 4 p.m. at Brooklyn Army Terminal in Brooklyn
- Friday, Aug. 20, 4 p.m. at Forest Hills Stadium in Queens