The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) has collaborated with Smithsonian Folkways Recordings to produce the Smithsonian Anthology of Hip-Hop and Rap.
On Aug. 20, the collection of archival material documenting the growth and expansion of hip-hop will be unveiled and include 129 songs across nine CDs that have impacted “hip-hop.” Public Enemy, Lauryn Hill, Kanye West, and Nicki Minaj are just a few of the multitude of legendary and influential artists whose music will be included in the collection. The bevy of musical works was produced over the course of several years by an executive committee comprised of stars like Chuck D, MC Lyte, Questlove, and 9th Wonder, as well as writers and cultural commentators from various eras, including Adam Bradley, Jeff Chang, Cheryl Keyes, Mark Anthony Neal, Bill Adler, and Bill Stephney. The anthology will also include hundreds of photos from throughout the history of hip-hop, curated by artist Cey Adams, the founding creative director of Def Jam Records.
The release of the Smithsonian Anthology of Hip-Hop and Rap is the latest project in the Smithsonian African American Legacy Series, a collaboration between Smithsonian Folkways and NMAAHC to present and unearth stories about African-Americans’ contributions to music and culture.
“Born in Bronx and raised across the American West and South, hip-hop is one of the most influential genres of music in the modern era,” said Kevin Young, the Andrew W. Mellon Director of NMAAHC, in a statement coinciding with the news. “Through beats, dynamic rhymes and pointed lyricism, hip-hop has provided a platform for communities and generations to voice their ongoing struggles and has changed society and culture around the world.”
Dwandalyn R. Reece, the producer of the Smithsonian Anthology of Hip-Hop and Rap and NMAAHC’s associate director for curatorial affairs, and curator of music and performing arts, also spoke on her goal in producing the anthology. “We wanted the Smithsonian Anthology of Hip-Hop and Rap to be reflective of the culture, of the music, of the people, of everything that is part of hip-hop,” Reece said in a statement where she touched on the project’s importance in the celebration and documentation of Black music.
The Smithsonian Anthology of Hip-Hop and Rap arrives on the eve of the NMAAHC’s five-year anniversary and will also include a 300-page coffee table book featuring 11 essays from prominent music scholars, authors, and journalists covering various cultural topics, as well as detailed notes on each individual song included in the anthology.