Hip hop has continually transformed itself and the world around it. Musicians have long used music as a form of protest and a means of responding to the political, socioeconomic, and interpersonal issues that are important to their lives and their community.
Rooted in the storytelling of the blues, the jump and wail of R&B, and the rebellious attitude of rock & roll – hip hop got its start in African American and Caribbean American dance clubs, discos, and block parties in the 1970s South Bronx. Hip hop was a way to inform and empower a community dealing with poverty, unemployment, police brutality, and racism – serving as an echo of the messages of the Civil Rights Movement. But it was also a way to celebrate and take pride in that same community, and hip hop flourished!
Hip hop serves as a voice for the voiceless. As Public Enemy’s Chuck D tells us, the music was (and still is) “Black America’s CNN.” Hip hop can be fun, funky, and fierce and carries with it information about the experience of Black America, a story not told in mainstream media. The need for music that inspires change – or even sparks revolution – has always existed. Hip hop just pumped up the volume and brought the noise.
CURRENTLY ON EXHIBIT Hip Hop at 50: Holla If Ya Hear Me celebrates the life, music, and cultural impact of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame's hip hop Inductees and expands beyond their influence to look at the key artists, styles, and moments from hip hop history.
Search the Rock Hall's archival collections here, including photographs, manuscripts, business records, posters, handbills, recordings, and much more from performers, bands, record label executives, recording studios, and the fans themselves!
Listed below are notable collections and items related to rap and hip-hop.
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