Smithsonian Launches Campaign to Support Expansive New Anthology of #HipHopHistory

By Sameer Rao Oct 17, 2017

The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) features a growing body of artifacts from hip-hop history—Rakim’s leather suit and J. Dilla’s synthesizer among them—in its permanent collection. The museum draws upon this wealth of archival material, and the contributions of artists who made hip-hop what it is, for a new anthology of rap history.



The NMAAHC launched a Kickstarter campaign to support the forthcoming "Smithsonian Anthology of Hip-Hop and Rap" today (October 17). The Kickstarter page describes the anthology as a 300-page book and nine-CD collection with more than 120 tracks that map the evolution of the artform. The volume "will illustrate different social and political trends within the genre, such as police brutality, feminism and Afrocentrism," reads the page. "It will explore these themes through music, from old-school pioneers like the Sugarhill Gang and Roxanne Shanté to artists of today like Kanye West and Nicki Minaj—and four decades’ worth of essential names in between."

NMAACH and Smithsonian Folkways record label worked alongside several influential artists and personalities to develop the still-in-progress list. Rappers MC Lyte and Chuck D, Def Jam Records executives Bill Stephney and Bill Adler and scholars Cheryl L. Keaves and Mark Anthony Neal all appear in the promo video. Def Jam’s founding creative director Cey Adams designed the anthology, which is slated for release in December 2018. 

This is the Smithsonian’s third Kickstarter campaign, following similar ones to conserve Neil Armstrong’s space suit and Dorothy’s ruby slippers from "The Wizard of Oz" in other constituent museums. Money raised will support production and music licensing costs. 

Those who contribute at various levels by November 16 can receive gifts that include a compilation of Smithsonian Folkways catalog remixes by producer 9th Wonder, a special poster designed by Adams and a private NMAAHC tour from Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson.

Visit the Kickstarter page to learn more, and follow the campaign on social media using the hashtag #HipHopHistory.