From the NY Times:
Hollis, an enclave of 23,000 people in eastern Queens, not far from Jamaica, is a largely African-American neighborhood with a more recent population of West Indian immigrants and a paradoxical character.
The community has a suburban feel and is home to working- and middle-class families who live in snug one- and two-family Colonials with small front lawns. Yet Hollis has long been troubled by drugs and gun violence, which belie the neighborhood’s tranquil appearance and which became especially severe during the crack epidemic of the late ’80s.
Run-DMC and Russell Simmons are local heroes in a community where a strong sense of small-town pride endures among those who have made good. A notable symbol of this pride is the Hollis Hip Hop Museum, a shrine to the neighborhood’s musical past that opened in February inside Hollis Famous Burgers, a restaurant at Hollis Avenue and 203rd Street.
Run-DMC was the first rap group to have a platinum record, the first to have a video on MTV and the first to appear on the cover of Rolling Stone. But the rappers were far from the only performers in Hollis in the early ’80s. In good weather, local parks and street corners were routinely transformed into performance spaces, with D.J.’s plugging in their turntables and M.C.’s rhyming over the beats before a crowd of revelers.
Such scenes no longer play out in Hollis. The new generation of local rappers are more likely to take their music to YouTube or MySpace, and many residents speak wistfully about the neighborhood’s bygone musical heyday and lament a lost sense of community.