Title: Chairman of the Board/President
Company: Universal Hip Hop Museum
Location: New York City
Rocky Bucano is Chairman of the Board and President of the Universal Hip Hop Museum, the official museum of Hip Hop Culture. Rocky began his career in the music industry as a teenage DJ during Hip Hop’s first years of existence in the early 70’s under the moniker of Kool DJ Rock and the Come Off Crew. Rocky gives much of his credit to the late Pete DJ Jones for inspiring him to develop a passion for music, sound production, and club promotion. Rocky’s first break came when Pete Jones gave him an opportunity to take over his set at the legendary Bronx nightclub the Stardust Ballroom in 1975.
The young Pete Jones protégés inate mixing ability caught the attention of the club’s management, who later offered Rocky a residency at the Stardust making him the official DJ of the club. Rocky’s legend as one of NYC’s top DJ’s grew from his infamous summer park jams at Haffen Park located in the Northeast section of the Bronx called “The Valley”, which drew thousands of people from all five boroughs to party with Rock and his Come Off Crew and the likes of other top DJ’s such as The Together Brothers, Grandmaster Flash, DJ Breakout and Baron and Luvbug Starski.
Rocky transitioned from DJ to club impresario as founder of DRB Productions, promoting parties in top NYC venues such as the Riverboat, Ipanema, Cork N Bottle, Hotel Diplomat and more, featuring a line up of the best mixers and emcees including DJ Hollywood, Grandmaster Flowers, Kool DJ Dee, Eddie Cheeba, Maboya and Grandmaster Flash.
Rocky’s goal was to become a radio personality like his idol and friend the late Frankie Crocker. Rocky received his FCC first class license with the hope of landing a radio gig, but instead was hired to work in television for stations in Texas in 1980. Rocky worked as television engineer and moonlighted as a DJ working for Houston club owner Charles Bush bringing the New York style of spinning records to Houston Texas.
Rocky returned to NYC in 1982 and landed a job working as Technical Director for WWOR TV 9 and re-establishing his music presence working with top club/concert promoters such as M. Morton Hall, Jerry Productions, Elmo The Magic Christian and Gene Pendergrass. Rocky departed from his position at WWOR to form the Bronx based StrongCity Records in 1987 with Hip Hop pioneer DJ Jazzy Jay. As President of StrongCity, Rocky and Jazzy produced the smash hit “Sexy” by the Masters of Ceremony featuring Grand Puba and reggae toast master Don Barron. StrongCity would also produce street classics for artists and groups such as Busy Bee, The Ultimate Force, and Philadelphia female rapper Ice Cream Tee. StrongCity developed and nurtured the production and writing talents of producers such as Diamond D (The Fugees), Teddy Riley, Skeff Anselm (Tribe Called Quest) and Cutman LG (Positive K).
Rocky left StrongCity to start indie promo and marketing firm Third Rail Productions in 1991 and built a national street team coalition to promote a wave of Hip Hop artists for every major record label, taking Hip Hop from the mix shows to mainstream radio. Rocky’s work as a top indie radio and retail promoter caught the attention of LA Reid and Dallas Austin in 1992 and was asked to join their team as Executive Vice President and GM of the newly formed LaFace/Rowdy Records – joint venture with Arista Records. Rocky helped Rowdy score a number one Billboard Rap single for Atlanta Hip Hop duo Illegal who went on to earn a Billboard Award for Best New Rap Group in 1993. Rocky would leave Rowdy to take over a GM role with Teddy Riley’s New Jack Swing Productions and negotiated multiple recording and publishing agreements for the company’s stable of artists, songwriters and producers. Rocky oversaw the marketing of the group Blackstreet and secured the group’s first platinum album.
Rocky would return to television after being recruited by Cablevision to develop a broadband music network for Optimum called The Total Music Network the precursor for streaming radio and video networks Pandora, Spotify, Live 365 and YouTube. As project manager of Cablevision’s new media department Rocky would work on development of innovative interactive television projects for MetroChannels and Rainbow Media Holdings that would shape the future of on demand music programming. Rocky assisted with the rebranding of Much Music USA, which would become Fuse Networks.
In 2001 Rocky would breakaway from the music industry and use his leadership skills to take on a new role as Executive Director of the New York Gauchos Youth Basketball program. He led the organization for the next 13 years helping disadvantaged youth (boys and girls) earn college athletic scholarships to top institutions auch as Kansas University, University of Connecticut, Louisville, University of Kentucky, DePaul and many others. During Rocky’s tenure with the Gauchos, many of the program’s alums have gone on to play professional basketball overseas and in the NBA and WNBA.
Rocky is now leading development of the Universal Hip Hop Museum which is dedicated to the preservation, documentation and celebration of Hip Hop’s past, present and future. The Universal Hip Hop Museum was founded in 2014 and was chartered by the New York State Department of Education Board of Regents. The museum’s founding members are Kurtis Blow, Afrika Bambaataa, Grandwizzard Theodore, Joe Conzo, Shawn Cutman LG Thomas, Grandmaster Melle Mel and Mickey Bentson. Afrika Bambaataa resigned from the museum earlier this year.
The Universal Hip Hop Museum’s executive team and advisory board and trustees includes people such as Ndaba Mandela, Tom Silverman, Ed Young, Michael Ford, Robert Reid, Paradise Gray, Adam Silverstein, Ice T, Big Daddy Kane, Gary Harris, Sha Rock, Rakim, Marq Cli N Tel Hawkins, Q Tip, Michael Carnevale, Dedra Tate, Wesley Ramjeet, Greg Mack, Crash One, Tats Cru, Bonz Malone, Dr. Tanji Gilliam, Krayzie Bone, Chip Fu, NYS Assemblyman Michael Blake, Dale Resteghini, Sean Koh, Sydney Joseph, Soul Sonic Biggs, Zach Greenberg, Mike Wood, Eshan Ponnadurai, Leyla Turkin, Awesome Two, Ernie Paniccioli, Ralph McDaniels, Chuck Chillout, Marley Marl, Rah Digga, KRS One, Tyrone Williams, Lady B, Cynthia Horner, Roxanne Shante, Eric Orr, Doug Young, Michael Khalfani, Carmello Alvarez, Charlie Stetler, Fab Five Freddie, Arnold Brown, Saurabh Kikani, Donna Davis, Hakim Green, Martin Caba, Chris Rivers, Reggie Peters, Derrick Lewis, Terence Barry, Raquel Delgado and Daniel Dappah.
The museum is on track to open in 2020 in the Bronx and has plans to open UHHM galleries in Los Angeles, Detroit and Belgium. The Universal Hip Hop Museum has partnered with Microsoft and will be hosting envisioning sessions with college students and members of the Hip Hop Community in Los Angeles, Detroit, Atlanta and New York in December (7th-14th). For more information about the Universal Hip Hop Museum and how you can support the preservation of Hip Hop go to www.uhhm.org.