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New Hollis hip-hop museum serves up beats, burgers

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Southeast Queens is home to countless hip-hop artists, including Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, but there were no venues in the neighborhood to honor their successes in and out of the recording studio, according to Hollis businessman Orville Hall.

Hall decided to fill that hole by opening Hollis Famous Burger/Hip Hop Museum last Thursday. The hip-hop-themed restaurant, at 203-01 Hollis Ave., features cheap burgers and walls of memorabilia of artists like Run-DMC, LL Cool J and Ja Rule, which Hall said could inspire future artists.

“The vision of the place was to open something in the neighborhood and show people the Hollis that it can be. Right now, there are a lot of closed-down buildings and empty space,” said Hall, who was a rapper back in the 1980s and early ’90s.

DMC joined City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) in congratulating Hall for opening the restaurant, which serves burgers, fries, chicken and other dishes. The hip-hop said too many young listeners have forgotten about the early days of the music genre when artists like him were trying to deliver an uplifting message of hope through their songs.

The restaurant includes DMC’s gold and platinum records, vintage turntables, posters of famous concert gigs and a eight foot mural of late Run DMC member Jason Mizell aka Jam Master Jay, who opened a recording studio on Merrick Boulevard.

“These records mean, ‘Yo, we did something good.’ ” DMC said.

Hall, who was  a close friend of Mizell said he agreed with DMC’s views of the music industry today. Too many children view the glamorous side of today’s rap artists and hope to get into the business only to make money and live a stylish lifestyle, according to Hall.

“I think a lot of them get a bad rap for not giving back, but they do support the neighborhood,” Hall said of the artists.

DMC concurred and took time during the restaurant’s opening to pose in pictures with fans and reminisce with old neighborhood friends. The rapper, scheduled to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April, said he does not consider himself in a better league than his community members despite his success over the decades.

“I hate it when people come up to me and say, ‘Yo, I’m your fan.’ ” I say, ‘No you’re not a fan. You’re a friend,’ ” DMC said.

City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) praised Hall for opening the restaurant. Hall, who works as a marketing manager for independent record label Polo Grounds Music, had pitched the idea for the restaurant for years, and the councilman said he supported it because there was no such venue for honoring the community’s musicians in southeast Queens.

The councilman said it would give younger residents a chance to relish in their community’s history.

“It will help the children in the community,” Comrie said.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

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