My name is Shanelle Genai, writing stuff about Black entertainment is my thang.
Today, we’re talking about hip-hop, the who’s who, what’s what and how they made it pop.
So take a read if you wanna hear ‘bout that while I tell you all about the new Smithsonian Anthology of Hip-Hop and Rap.
*Drops the mic*
Yeah, yeah, I know: “Stick to your day job, sis.” Don’t worry, I will.
In fact, if my rhymes didn’t scare you away and you’re still intrigued, allow me to introduce you to the latest project from the National Museum of African American History and Culture and Smithsonian Folkways: The Smithsonian Anthology of Hip-Hop and Rap.
Boasted as the first-of-its-kind, multimedia collection, the anthology “captures hip-hop’s evolution from its earliest days in the late ’70s to today’s contemporary artists (1979-2013). It features nine CDs with 129 tracks, and a 300-page, coffee-table book with 11 essays and never-before-seen photographs and designs by Cey Adams, artist and founding creative director of Def Jam,” per the NMAAHC.
Speaking on the project during a recent interview for Vanity Fair, the anthology’s producer, editor and museum’s Associate Director of Curatorial Affairs, Dr. Dwandalyn Reece explained:
“In this project, we didn’t want the Smithsonian coming in on high and telling people what hip-hop is. We wanted people who are part of it, who’ve experienced it, and who’ve lifted it, helping to frame a story. It’s like anything that I talk about. What I say in museums is we don’t see this as the greatest hits, we do storytelling. We do storytelling with objects, and with this anthology we do storytelling with the images, and with the tracks, and with anything that’s a part of the box set.”
She later added, “So much about hip-hop is about getting beyond these boxes of containment, whether it’s with voice or musical expression. There is a much more fluid world out there that people are choosing to define for themselves on their own terms. That’s a sense of agency that generations of people have opened the way for younger people.”
In tandem with an advisory council consisting of “artists, industry folks, scholars, as well as staff from Folkways [the Smithsonian’s non-profit record label] and the museum,” Reece was able to narrow down tracks and items they collectively felt fully told the story of the not only hip-hop as a genre, but as an influential way of life spanning across decades. Using the question “Does the song help advance the story of hip-hop?” proposed by MC Lyte during a call as their driving force, the team went through over 900 songs before settling on the handful that finally made the cut.
The end result is a collection that will not only prove to be a treasured keepsake for the most diehard hip-hop head’s among us, but one that also gives ode, pays tribute, and bestows honor upon one of the most influential cultures in American history.
For the full track list below and more information on how you can get your copy of The Smithsonian Anthology of Hip-Hop and Rap, head on over to nmaahc.si.edu.com.