Every year, like clockwork, Brooklynites gather at Wingate Park for the city’s annual concert series. In honor of Hip Hop’s 50th birthday, a special performance by longtime Brooklyn VJ Ralph McDaniels took over a portion of the August 8th concert, making it a little special and different. The show was hosted by the Brooklyn Borough President’s office, and the full lineup included three-time Grammy-winning reggae band Morgan Heritage, Harlem’s vintage funk and jazz saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin & Soul Squad, and R&B singer Leela James.
Even though it was a weeknight, the park was filled with concertgoers eager to jam out for the night. While music was playing and performers were lighting up the stage, the Canarsie Courier caught up with Borough President Antonio Reynoso about the progress being made in Brooklyn and the challenges we are still facing.
This is BP Reynoso’s first year in office, and he highlighted some of the borough’s accomplishments. One of the biggest highlights this year was our borough’s continued fight for black maternal health. Reynoso, along with his department, has secured $45 million in state funding to help with various black maternal health projects. The program has partnered with city hospitals with the goal of making Brooklyn the safest place for black women to have children. In a report from the NYC Public Advocate, black women give birth to 23% of babies in NYC, but 55% of maternal deaths are black women.
Efforts for small businesses with the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce are helping businesses in East New York, Canarsie and other areas. Reynoso hired his appointee Kim Council to join his team, and she is now the Deputy Borough President. He said bringing her onto the team was the best thing for Brooklyn, as she is a strong leader and community-focused to help stop violence in Brooklyn. What drives Reynoso to get up and serve every day is a passion he gained while away at college. After seeing the gap in education for inner-city youth, he was promoted as a college student at Syracuse to bring change to Brooklyn.
The original video host Ralph McDaniels caught up with the Canarsie Courier after his Hip Hop Tribute. Ralph McDaniels created Video Music Box. His show is also celebrating 40 years of service to the Hip Hop community. McDaniels created the show alongside Lionel C. Martin back in 1983. The pair would host all the legends of Hip Hop and feature their music videos. If you’re from New York, then you know the foundation Video Music Box set for Hip Hop artists. McDaniels would host Jay-Z, Biggie Smalls, Nas and many others. When asked what his most memorable time in Hip Hop was, he said it was when Jay-Z sent him a bottle of champagne thanking him for being a part of his journey. Video Music Box was never picked up by major broadcasters, but that paid off for McDaniels. He owns the rights to his show and is now reaping the benefits of that business move. Giving advice to those coming up in the industry, McDaniels says future entertainers should pay attention to the crowd and what’s going on around them; this one key will take them far.