Smithsonian Institution Starts Hip-Hop Collection

Scott Malone, Reuters, Feb 28, 2006

The Smithsonian Institution on Tuesday began a search for hip-hop artifacts, for a future exhibit on the urban style best known for rap music, break dancing and baggy clothes.

Rap stars and producers who contributed items to the exhibit, including Ice-T and Russell Simmons, said they were surprised to see the Smithsonian turn its attention to the three-decades-old art form.

“It validates it,” said Los Angeles-based rapper Ice-T. “It’s a good feeling.”

Hip-hop music got its start in the South Bronx section of New York in the 1970s, when largely black and Puerto Rican youths began layering samples of sounds from existing records over driving, bass-heavy rhythm tracks.

The initial contributions to the museum’s collection include a pair of turntables used by disc jockey Grand Master Flash, known for the seminal 1982 hit “The Message,” and a boom box owned by Fab Five Freddy, the original host of “Yo! MTV Raps,” as well as pictures, album-cover artwork and recordings.

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