By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
When the names Theodore Livingston and Tony Salas are mentioned in pop culture circles, they barely move the needle.
But when Livingston and Salas unveil their alter egos — “Grand Wizzard Theodore ” and “Tony Crush” — it more than gives a pulse to the masses.
Livingston, the DJ who helped start hip-hop 50 years ago with his groundbreaking scratching technique on the turntables, and Salas, the influential pioneer of the Cold Crush Brothers, are among the inductees into the National Hip-Hop Museum’s Hall of Fame.
And while celebrating the high honor on June 10 and June 11, the pair will help observe two special anniversaries: hip-hop’s 50th and the 40th anniversary of the genre-changing movie “Wild Style.”
“We changed the world of music as we know it,” Livingston remarked.
“Time has gone by really quickly, but I’m so happy to be a part of something bigger than I am,” Livingston added.
“When I think about the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, I think about the DJs, MCs, bee-boppers, and others who are not here anymore. But, instead, those are the ones we should be honoring because this is a culture that changed the world.”
For Salas, the Hall of Fame recognition and the dual anniversaries only return him to his youth.
A music lover, whose turntables burned with the sounds of the Temptations, Gil Scott Heron, and the Jackson 5, Salas got his inspiration from his cousin, “Disco Bee,” a member of the legendary group Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five.
He studied Disco Bee as his cousin mixed and scratched records, picking up valuable lessons that helped define Salas’ standing as one of hip-hop’s most influential figures.
Salas looks back on Wild Style with the fondest of memories.
“It was incredible,” he asserted. “From my understanding, it was supposed to be a documentary but initially lacked the energy. But someone came up with the idea of adding a DJ, and we gave it that energy.”
Released in 1983 and produced by Charlie Ahearn, Wild Style became the first film exclusively about hip-hop.
The film starred Livingston, Salas, Fab Five Freddy, Lee Quiñones, The Rock Steady Crew, Queen Lisa Lee, Grandmaster Flash, and the Cold Crush Brothers.
The film follows a graffiti artist named Zoro.
“I always thought we did it the right way,” said Salas, a graffiti artist who became a DJ.
The Wild Style anniversary celebration occurs in Brooklyn’s Zero Space with Five Points Festival.
Kevin “Scene” Lewis will kick off the festivities with live graffiti painting while Salas, Livingston, and DJ Kevie Kev Rockwell will spin classic hip-hop breaks and early hip-hop from the Wild Style era.
Later, the museum will present a live-streamed podcast via Rock The Bells.
The celebration will culminate in a ceremony inducting Wild Style Director Charlie Ahearn with cast members into NHHM’s Hall of Fame.
Museum historian Jay Quan – a noted hip-hop historian, lecturer, narrator, and writer – will serve as emcee.
Additionally, throughout the weekend, the museum will exhibit a retrospective of rare and vintage hip-hop toys from 1984 to the present.
It also will operate a pop-up retail store offering many rare, exclusive, vintage, and one-of-a-kind toys and apparel for purchase from its retail arm, The Hip-Hop Shop, a flagship retail and event space of the National Hip-Hop Museum.
“The anniversary has helped me and Fab 5 take ourselves to the next level,” Livingston exclaimed. “I’m just happy to be a part of something bigger than me, and that’s what this is. Bigger than me.”
Sugar Hill Gang legend Master Gee serves as the executive director of the museum, located at 2622 Georgia Ave NW, Washington, DC. For more information, visit nationalhiphopmuseum.org