Street Renamed to Honor Rap Pioneer Scott La Rock

By Leonel Henriquez


Street sign at Jerome Avenue and Kingsbridge Road, honoring DJ Scott La Rock. Photo by Leonel Henriquez.

On May 19, Jerome Avenue at the corner of Kingsbridge Road was renamed DJ Scott La Rock Boulevard in honor of the icon, Scott La Rock aka Scott Monroe Sterling. Sterling was the founder of the rap group Boogie Down Productions along with legendary MC KRS-One. The street is by the historic Kingsbridge Armory where he once worked as a social worker, helping the homeless. The renaming took place almost exactly three decades after the rapper’s death. Scott La Rock died on August 27, 1987.  At only 25 years old, he was shot and killed as he intervened to resolve a dispute on University Avenue.

Scott La Rock’s place in music history is cemented in the duo’s breakout album “Criminal Minded” which was released in May 1987, just months before his death. It is considered by some rap historians as the best ever, featuring such hits as “Poetry,” “South Bronx,” and the title track, “Criminal Minded.” The tracks highlighted the basic elements of rap music, a thumping bass line, an MC rapping and a DJ creating beats by cutting and scratching.

At a time when rap music was still a growing underground genre, Scott La Rock was instrumental in elevating the purity in the presentation of the music. The development of rap music was mostly regional in its early stages and the duo produced songs that depicted their pride of place and love of the Bronx, as well as songs about street awareness and social consciousness. The duo was on the verge of signing a third album deal with Warner Brothers Records at the time of La Rock’s death.

“He was ahead of his time and died before his time," said Lehman alumni MC Asti. In regards to Scott La Rock finally being recognized Asti adds, “He’d be on the Mount Rushmore of Bronx artists, a founding father, a visionary, a trend-setter.”