- "In the Bronx, battleground all around, there's a sound that was found. A breeding ground for the profound crowned: Hip-Hop Nation, represent!"
- ―Hip-Hop Nation settler
|Location:||The Bronx, New York|
Hip-Hop Nation is a small settlement in the southwest Bronx that espouses the values of Pre-War hip-hop. The small nation exists within the Sedgwick apartment complex, the historic home of hip-hop.
In the wake of World War II, The Bronx underwent a massive change. The construction of new roadways, such as the Cross Bronx Expressway, of housing projects all over the boro and of a scale-down of New York City municipal services led to a massive “White Flight” to the suburbs. The ethnic make-up of the boro transformed from primarily Irish, Italian, Jewish and Polish to primarily African-American, Puerto Rican, Dominican, and Caribbean. By the turn of the 21st century, The Bronx- particularly the South Bronx- became identified with a high rate of poverty and unemployment.
In that environment, a new type of music began to develop. With musical influences borrowed from calypso, disco, funk and reggae, and themes central to life in the inner city, the hip-hop took off. The movement began in a specific housing project in the Morris Heights section of the South Bronx- 1520 Sedgwick Avenue- but soon spread across the boro, the city, and the entire country. Hip-hop became an anthem for urban culture, allowing the disenfranchised to express themselves in creative ways.
More than just music, hip-hop culture is characterized by distinct elements such as rapping, DJing, breakdancing and graffiti art.
Hip-hop always remained a niche culture, as easy listening R&B and big band dominated the airwaves for practically all of the 20th and 21st centuries. Like virtually everything else, hip-hop culture was forgotten about in the aftermath of the Great War, as mere day-to-day survival became more important than the individual and artistic expression and counterculture.
Birth of a Nation
The birth of Hip-Hop Nation began with the rise of power of various groups in the early 23rd century. In the South Bronx, The National Pleasure League came into power in 2221. Further east, Bob’s Wreckers came into power in 2236 and the Machinists came into power in 2245. The three groups fought with each other over territory, and were periodically joined by the Federal Republic of Libeteria, which came into conflict with all three as well. The resulting crossfire left wastelanders living in The Bronx constantly on the move, fleeing from one area to another as tension and conflict between the different groups flared up.
In 2239, a group of wandering wastelanders took refuge in 1520 Sedgwick Avenue. Though the building itself was a shell of what it had once been, damaged in the Great War and subsequent years, improbably, the building’s fallout shelter was still intact. The wastelanders were able to gain access to it. Looking for food, weapons, or anything else that could aid in their daily lives, they instead found Pre-War turntables, records, cassette players, mixtapes, magazines, and other items related to hip-hop culture.
The wastelanders came to embrace the ideas presented in the records and mixtapes. Even though the lyrics were written in another time, and were meant for a different group of people, the themes of oppression and community appealed to them. Kenny Jefferson, the de facto leader of the wastelanders taking refuge in 1520 Sedgwick, was inspired by what he heard and convinced the people around him that not only should they stay in the building, but that they should defend what was there and take a stand. When a group of Machinist automations appeared in the area, the men and women following Jefferson had their resolve put to the test. Ill-prepared and armed against a handful of Machinist stalkers and juggernauts, the wastelanders successfully drove the robots away.
That winter, the inhabitants of 1520 Sedgwick prepared for the expected Machinist counterattack. That attack never came, as apparently the group was bogged down fighting other factions in the area and either could not or did not want to spare robots on a small group of wastelanders in a slice of territory miles away. That spring, the settlers began expanding into the other, nearby houses that were once the Sedgwick Houses projects. The handful of people that were already squatting in those ruined projects were incorporated into the group, and Hip-Hop Nation was born.
Over the next couple of years, Hip-Hop Nation expanded. The nation was far enough from the different groups fighting in the boro that they could exist in relative peace- though all knew were well aware that the peace could be shattered in an instant. In 2268, Grandmaster Jefferson brokered what he thought was going to be peace talks between Hip-Hop Nation and the remnants of the National Pleasure League. While on the way to the summit, he and his bodyguards were ambushed by NPL raiders. Most were sold into slavery, while Jefferson had his head beheaded and sent back to Hip-Hop Nation, just to show that the NPL was still a force to be reckoned with.
Jefferson’s successor, Carson Lawrence, became the leader of the nation later that year and decided that a policy of strict isolation would help the small settlement most. The 300 or so people living in Hip-Hop Nation-most of whom were civilian wastelanders with very little combat training of any kind- would never be able to match the strength of the National Pleasure League, Bob’s Wreckers, or the Machinists, so they would do their best to hide from the violent world around them. Integral to his plan was building a large radio antenna above 1520 Sedgwick. The white noise from certain Pre-War technology that Hip-Hop Nation had access to sometimes caused interference that short-circuited the automations of The Machinists. By staying isolated and broadcasting white noise, the men and women of Hip-Hop Nation would stay safe. The antenna was completed in 2270 and the settlement shut itself off from the world around it.
The plan worked, but it had unintended consequences. The community gardens could not feed everyone. The stores of food that had been accumulated ran out faster than anticipated. Supplies from the outside world could not be brought in fast enough with only small groups of scavengers exploring and returning every few weeks. Discontent began brewing, and when a disease ravaged the populace in 2272, the people had had enough. After two years of the isolationist experiment, a man by the name of Apollo Jackson challenged Grandmaster Lawrence to his position.
Grandmaster Jackson And A New Day
In accordance with the laws of Hip-Hop Nation, the two had a rap battle to determine who would lead the settlement. While community sentiment was certainly against the current Grandmaster, Apollo Jackson spit hot fire. His disses stung the Grandmaster and impressed the audience. When the battle ended, Grandmaster Lawrence knew that he had been defeated. Instead of accepting defeat gracefully, he lashed out at the new Grandmaster. He was subdued before he could actually cause Grandmaster Jackson any harm, and was exiled from Hip-Hop Nation as a result. It is said that he still lives in the nearby wastes, plotting revenge.
Grandmaster Jackson was a breath of fresh air for the people living in the ruins of the Sedgwick Projects. He lifted the isolation decree and allowed people to come and go freely. This not only improved the health of those already living in the settlement, but attracted others, increasing the site of Hip-Hop Nation. He converted the radio antenna previously built to surround the settlement with white noise into a radio station, The Struggle Radio.
He has tried to make peace with the different factions in the Bronx multiple times, but the best he has been able to do is establish an uneasy peace with The Machinists- and most think that the group agreed to that so that they would be able to have time to develop new machines that are not thrown off by the radio waves broadcast from The Struggle Radio. The remnants of the National Pleasure League have ignored his calls for peace, as have Bob's Wreckers. His attempts at establishing peace for Hip-Hop Nation were not all bad, though. Through his efforts, he was able to make contact with the Federal Republic of Liberteria and establish a trade agreement with the island nation to the south. Negotiations are even in the works for opening an embassy for Hip-Hop Nation to the south, and an embassy for the Federal Republic in the Bronx.
Surrounded by enemies, Hip-Hop Nation is forced to be as self-sufficient as possible. The settlement grows fruits and vegetables on the top of their Pre-War projects in large community gardens. The gardens are used for sustenance, but any crop abundance is sold. The settlement makes money from selling Pre-War relics and scrap as well. Because of their familiarity with certain Pre-War technology, engineers from Hip-Hop Nation are some of the only men and women willing and qualified to fix and/or restore such relics.
The leader of Hip-Hop Nation is known as the “Grandmaster”. There have been a total of three different Grandmasters since Hip-Hop Nation was founded. Kenny Jefferson was the first Grandmaster, from its founding in 2259 until 2268. The second Grandmaster, Carson Lawrence, was Grandmaster from 2268 until 2272. The third and current Grandmaster, Apollo Jackson, has been Grandmaster since 2272.
When a challenge for the position of Grandmaster is laid down, the current Grandmaster and the challenger must participate in a rap battle. The Grandmaster and the challenger trade barbs, insults, and boasts known as ‘disses’, which are judged by the community. A winner is selected based on the disses that are exchanged and the reactions of the community.
Hip-Hop Nation is centered in 1520 Sedgwick but extends past the boundaries of the building. The Harlem River is the nation’s western boundary, located only a few hundred feet away. Its southern boundary is located only a few hundred feet away as well, at the ruins of what were once the Washington and Alexander Hamilton Bridges. It extends north to West Tremont Avenue and extends east to Jerome Avenue, both major thoroughfares back during Pre-War times. Most of Hip-Hop Nation is clustered in the Sedgwick Houses, a cluster of Pre-War projects, located on the southeast border of the territory the nation claims as its own.
Hip-Hop Nation has been at odds with all of the different groups fighting for control in the Bronx. Their swath of land is far enough from the other groups in the area that the main settlements of the nation generally always enjoy a sense of peace. Civilians living in the Sedgwick Houses can live their lives in relative peace. Hip-Hop Nation does its best to stay out of the regular violence that goes on in The Bronx on a daily basis, but when violence comes to them, they fight back.
The remnants of the National Pleasure League and Bob’s Wreckers are generally amoral raiders, and as such, both are enemies of Hip-Hop Nation. The Machinists, while not necessarily evil like the other two groups, has eyes on controlling all of the ruins of New York City, and as a result, is considered an enemy. The Machinists at be reasoned with, at the very least, unlike the National Pleasure League and Bob’s Wreckers, and the two have entered into very brief alliances with each other for very specific reasons in the past. Despite those past alliances, Hip-Hop Nation is keenly aware that the Machinists want to control the entire New York City area. As a precaution, the nation has various Pre-War technologies scattered across their territory that produce electromagnetic interference, mostly in the form of electronic bug zappers and microwave ovens.
Grandmaster Jackson has established a trade agreement with the Federal Republic of Libeteria. Negotiations are even in the works for opening an embassy for Hip-Hop Nation to the south, and an embassy for the Federal Republic in the Bronx