'Smithsonian Anthology of Hip-Hop and Rap' Bows Kickstarter Campaign

Jati Lindsay
Smithsonian Anthology of Hip-Hop and Rap

Chuck D, MC Lyte, Questlove, 9th Wonder and more helped curate the special project chronicling hip-hop’s influence as a social and musical movement.

Hip-hop fans are being given the chance to participate in a landmark project. The Smithsonian is launching a 30-day Kickstarter campaign today (Oct. 17) on behalf of the Smithsonian Anthology of Hip-Hop and Rap.

Smithsonian Folkways Recordings will produce and release the anthology. The box set will be comprised of nine CDs, more than 120 tracks and a 300-page book offering extensive liner notes, essays by artists and scholars plus never-before-published photographs from the collection housed by the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC).

In its chronicle of hip-hop as a social and musical movement, the Smithsonian Anthology of Hip-Hop and Rap will be the first collection to feature music from every major label and dozens of independent labels. The anthology was developed by Smithsonian curators in collaboration with an executive committee whose members included prominent names from the rap/hip-hop realm. Among them: Public Enemy’s Chuck D, MC Lyte, The Roots’ Questlove and producer 9th Wonder and industry veterans Bill Adler and Bill Stephney. The committee in turn reached out to more than 50 artists, scholars, DJs, photographers, filmmakers and industry insiders for their input on the track list and final package.

With the goal of raising $250,000 toward the costs of producing the anthology, the Kickstarter campaign will run through Nov. 15. Participants will be able to get the finished project before it arrives in stores and at production cost. Additional special perks range from a set of hip-hop trading cards and an exclusive digital-only 9th Wonder remix drawn from the Folkways archives to a tour of the NMAAHC led by a curator and Questlove, a limited-edition print of the album artwork for Public Enemy’s pioneering Fear of a Black Planet by artist B.E. Johnson and a one-of-a-kind pair of Adidas adorned with artwork by visual artist Cey Adams. Adams, a founding creative director of Def Jam, also designed the anthology package.

In a release announcing the project and its Kickstarter campaign, Lonnie G. Bunch III, founding director of the NMAAHC, noted that “hip-hop is a musical revolution that embodies the voice of an entire generation. That’s why it’s important for the museum to partner with the hip-hop community and Folkways Recordings to tell this story. Hip-hop helps us to understand the power of black music and the impact of African American culture on the world.”

The Smithsonian Anthology of Hip-Hop and Rap will join Smithsonian Folkways’ catalog of 4000 albums. The catalog’s roster features two other landmark anthologies: The Anthology of American Folk Music (1952) and Jazz: The Smithsonian Anthology (2011).

“We have always been passionately committed to documenting and celebrating music with strong social impact,” said Huib Schippers, director and curator of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, now going into its 70th year. “Hip-hop began in the 1970s as a distinctly African American urban culture that has since become a global phenomenon.”

For more information and to contribute to the campaign, visit the Kickstarter link here.


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