African American Studies


Interviewer: Mark Naison, Lisa Betty

Interviewee: Darney “K-Born” Rivers, Rodney Morris

Summarized by: Sarah Cavanagh

Darney “K-Born” Rivers is a legendary Bronx rapper and community organizer. He was born in the Bronx in 1970 and lived on Grant avenue and then Morris avenue near 169th street. Living on Grant avenue in the early 1970s, Rivers describes the fires that became a common sight in the area. The Grant avenue neighborhood became so dangerous that he had to live with relatives in Queens for some time. Rivers and his family moved to the Fordham road area of the Bronx in 1978. At that time the Fordham road area was mostly Italian, Albanian and Yugoslavian. His parents came from Charleston, South Carolina and his father was a Vietnam War veteran. Rivers has two older sisters, an older brother, and a younger sister.

Rivers recalls school as generally a positive experience. A sociable student, the academic work was easy for him due to he and his older sisters “playing school” - teaching him lessons that he would learn in the following years. Rivers did experience difficulties growing up, and moved schools from different schools and was sent away multiple times. He got his GED in Troy, New York in 1984 while he was at the Tryon youth home. He eventually went to Bronx Community College where he wrote and produced “Rap’s New Generation.”

Music was always present in Rivers’ life. From a young age, he remembers collecting records with his uncle, helping a neighborhood DJ with his equipment, and even making pause tapes. Rivers began rapping at around age nine or ten, and as he got older began to breakdance and perform at events like fashion shows. During the heyday of hip hop, he never really felt like he was making world history, it was just part of the Bronx culture. For Rivers “hip hop is graffiti, DJing, breaking, rapping, the way you dress, the way you speak.” In the 1980s, Rivers break danced at Lincoln Center, performed for classes at Hunters College, and would dance on the subway trains. He performed at Disco Fever where he met DJ Brucey-B. He later introduced Rivers and his partner La Brue to Teddy Riley at Rooftop Records with whom he made “Rap’s New Generation.” “Rap’s New Generation” spread throughout the city, and is pivotal in ushering in a whole new era of rappers that started the new jack swing.

Dr. Mark Naison plans to do a follow up interview with Rivers to discuss the crack years in the Bronx.