The music genre and art movement of hip hop developed in New York City, particularly the Bronx, in the 1970s. The city’s economy was in decline. High unemployment and the crack-cocaine epidemic led to a rise in crime. The government provided little funding for housing, leaving urban residents to live in decaying apartment buildings. Many young Black and Puerto Rican New Yorkers grew up in these challenging conditions. They often expressed their frustration with urban life into creativity, leading to hip hop music, breakdancing, and graffiti art.
Sharon Green grew up in the Bronx and first entered the hip hop scene in 1976 as a B-girl. She took on the rap name MC Sha-Rock and was a member of the hip hop group the Funky Four. Sha-Rock briefly left the group in 1979 and was replaced. On her return several months later, the group rebranded as the Funky 4 + 1 (she was the plus one). They were the first hip hop group to perform on television, featured as the musical guest on the television comedy show Saturday Night Live in 1981. Sha-Rock was the first female MC of a hip hop group and received the nickname “First Lady of Hip Hop.” She was known for her ability to rhyme and her technological innovation with the use of an echo chamber, which became common in hip hop.
The photograph shows MC Sha-Rock at a concert in 1980. She wears a green shirt with yellow letters that spell out “I’m Sha-Rock and I can’t be stopped,” her signature rap.
The flyer advertises a 1979 rap battle event in the Bronx. Because hip hop music was not mainstream, hand-drawn flyers were the primary way in which hip hop musicians promoted their events. It advertises the Brothers Disco, the Funky Four, and Grandmaster Flash.