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DJ Red Alert

Source: press handout / Harlem Festival of Culture

As the inaugural Harlem Festival of Culture is set to launch, it announced that Hip-Hop pioneer DJ Red Alert will be receiving a special honor.

With many eagerly anticipating the opening of the festival, the board behind it announced that they will be bestowing a special honor to the icon during their kickoff Friday evening (July 28). Kool DJ Red Alert is a son of Harlem, and his contributions to Hip-Hop began in 1976, rising to prominence on his Red Alert Goes Berserk show that first aired on WRKS (now KISS-FM WBHK 98.7) in 1983.

Since then, he’s left an indelible impact from introducing the world to KRS-One and Boogie Down Productions and the Native Tongues collective consisting of Jungle Brothers, De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, Queen Latifah, Black Sheep and Monie Love. He’s also been honored by Rolling Stone as one of its 50 most influential people in music and by the United Nations as an Ambassador to Music.

“As we prepare to kick off the Festival this weekend, we knew we had to take a moment to honor one of Harlem’s own, who in fact one of the main reasons Hip-Hop traveled outside of New York City to the world,” Yvonne McNair, HFC Co-Founder and Technical & Talent Producer, said in the announcement.

She continued: “HFC aims to be the ultimate celebration of Black music and Black culture and Hip-Hop is, of course, a major part of that. Red Alert embodies what the Harlem Festival of Culture represents – which is the very best of Harlem and of the Culture.”

For DJ Red Alert, the honor makes him joyful. “As a native raised in Harlem, it is a blessing to be honored by my own and in my hometown,” he said in the statement.

“I never could have imagined over 45 years ago that Hip-Hop would be the global phenomenon that it is today. Back then, we were just doing what we loved to do, not knowing what it would turn out to be as there was no stopping. Hip-Hop is in my DNA and made me who I am. I’m thankful to the Harlem Festival of Culture for recognizing me. I’m so excited to be there and see so many artists that I love, who I have worked with and broken their records as we come together for this Festival. It is a beautiful moment for Harlem and for Hip-Hop.”

The Harlem Festival of Culture will take place over the weekend, and it will be held at Randalls Island. The full weekend lineup and tickets are still available on their website.