Music Writer, Stephanie Woods-McKinney Talks Harlem Hip-Hops Past, Present And Future

June 12, 2024

Welcome to the latest episode of The Harlem World Magazine Podcast, your monthly deep dive into the captivating stories shaping our world of Harlem.

We’re thrilled to feature an exclusive conversation with music writer Stephanie Woods-McKinney, and founder/publisher Danny Tisdale as they discuss the future of Harlem hip-hop and beyond from DJ Kool Herc, to Big L to A$AP Rocky, to host Tisdale’s 1980s prediction of the end of hip hop and more (but not Stephanie’s fashionable Wu-Tang Clan earrings in the photo).

Join us as we explore the intricate dynamics of Harlem’s evolving landscape, delve into the nuances of diversity in music, and get a behind-the-scenes look into her craft.

With compelling segments and insightful commentary, this episode promises to be a riveting journey through the heart of contemporary music.

Tune in now and stay ahead with Harlem World Magazine’s access to Harlem leaders, legends, and trailblazers.

Stephanie Woods-McKinney

Stephanie Woods-McKinney, music writer, joining us. Stephanie Woods-McKinney is a Bronx native who graduated Magna Cum Laude from The College of New Rochelle with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Liberal Arts. She is a vocal community activist who sits on Community Board #10 in the Bronx; is a Co-chair of the Youth & Education Committee and holds a deep love for Hip Hop culture and community activism. Stephanie writes throughout NYC, and Harlem, she has also received countless awards and letters of recognition for her hip-hop photojournalism and a ‘Citation of Merit’ from Eric Adams.

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Photo credit: 1) Stephanie Woods-McKinney.

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  1. Ameliaismore,

    Thank you for your comment. The podcast is about where the music I love from Harlem to Harare and grew up with is headed, we feel the music is headed in a place that is not positive.

    Anytime something is not positive it is not good and we want to shine a light on it.


  2. Peace

    Please stop with the Kool Herc as the first event. Everyone who knows and lives the culture are just agreeing because its good for the culture to have a set date to celebrate. However to talk about the origins of Hip Hop you have to look at all the park jams that were happening in NYC. DJ Flowers, DJ Mario, Incognito, Cipher Sounds etc. They all contributed to the CULTURE of Hip Hop. It was the DJ’s creating Break Beats that created and is the birth of Hip Hop. Then came the MC’s who’s job was to MOTIVATE the crowd. So if its not doing that its not Hip Hop!

    Now lets talk about the Culture. Its not just music. When you study the origins it was teenagers who wanted to do something other than street life. Them getting together was a relief from all of that. It also was a community thing. One person had the turntables, another had the truck to carry the speakers and records, another person knew how to plug into the light pole. Which leads to the debate of the first. Lets be mindful that Hip Hop was a movement and in the beginning each person contributed their part. So…YES! Each of them were the first because THEY were the first to do what their contribution did for the culture. Lets start with that mindset and perspective to properly document the humble beginnings that has now morphed into this multi billion dollar industry.

    Now lets look at the real origin. If you are not speaking about the T connect or the multitude of artists that performed there and other “Hot Spots” in the ” Boogiedown Bronx” that created the rivalry that made the artform grow due to the battles. ( Please note It was NEVER BEEF!!!) Then we are omitting the folks that really started it. Let’s also look at the other elements. Hip Hop is also dance, dress, verbiage and so much more including the ones that got pulled into the culture which is our writers.(graffiti artists) Today’s rap artist are not reflective of these elements so it should not be considered Hip Hop! It should however be called rap something Blacks have done for centuries. It’s just now its the lowest vibration of music of rap that they are delivering. Succinctly, creativity is creativity yet with the same breath culture is culture. There is a difference. These young artists are creatives but not Culturalists!

    As we talk about the separation between Hip Hop and the Rap Industrial Complex lets make a few distinctions. Hip Hop lifts its community, has messaging and is authentic. If you copy the next person you are not original. Even Lil Kim or Foxy or even Trina there was only one of them. Instead today we are copying each other. Its cookie cutter music. They found what works or sells and are repeating it over and over to make money. OK DO YOU! Just be clear that its NOT HIP HOP! Never forget the rules, originality, authenticity, messaging, etc. is key to the contribution to the CULTURE and LIFESTYLE called Hip Hop! As for the sex sells that is rap not Hip Hop!!! Lets learn the difference. One adds to conversation and the universal culture of humanity. The other is a music form that young people have created directed by the companies that own stock. Those stock holders determine the messaging and outcome of the artist who spew/rap their agenda the best. Their success is determined by the industry not the community dictating what they like by who they respond to. That music gets buried or can only be found if you search for it.

    In closing, lets just leave the culture to the people who are living it and contributing to it. Let’s keep the people who were and are on the frontlines doing it speak on it. Let’s look at each era over the past 50 years and talk with them about why they created the music and why they did it and most important what was their motivation to do it?. When you do that you get a clear picture why this music is global. In my research and speaking with so many of the founders it was because they loved what they were doing and wanted to share that good feeling with their friends. It was a fun pastime that everyone enjoyed. It was messaging that got folks to engage in the party. Like the phrase “Everybody Say HO!!! These are the folks that need a voice so that everyone can understand how this culture was created. Lastly never forget that they were the voice of the oppressed. They spoke on it and that message is GLOBAL! Hence the reason why Hip Hop the culture and lifestyle has impacted the world.


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