Incredible photos by some of the nation's best photographers documenting the origins of hip-hop through the mid-1990s are on display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC).
The "Represent: Hip-Hop Photography" exhibit features scores of flicks from a hip-hop which traces back to the genre’s early days.
Acquired by hip-hop journalist Bill Adler in 2015, the Eyejammie Collection is the museum’s largest hip-hop collection. It consists of over 400 photographs from almost 60 photographers, including world-renowned artists Harry Allen, Janette Beckman, Michael Benabib, Anthony Pereira and Jamel Shabazz.
Legendary rappers MC Lyte, Salt-N-Pepa, Yo-Yo and Queen Latifah along with Nas, Big Daddy Kane, LL Cool J and others also make appearances throughout the exhibit.
DJs, MCs, breakdancers and graffiti, all of which propelled the culture are well-represented in the collection as well.
“To showcase a sampling of the Eyejammie Collection through this exhibition exemplifies the Smithsonian’s commitment to continue telling the important story of hip-hop’s cultural and historical significance,” director of the Center for African American Media Arts (CAAMA) and the exhibit’s curator Rhea Combs said according to NMAAHC’s website. “The pairing of photographs will challenge our visitors to view hip-hop within the context of a long-standing tradition of black creative achievement. It also reminds us that hip-hop is based upon rearticulating other arts that are constantly changing over time.”
One of the most intriguing components of the series is the pairing of early stars with other images from the museum’s photography collection to explore how various social movements, historic figures, art, culture and dance played a role in shaping rap and hip-hop culture.
There will also be short films that showcase hip-hop’s role in American society, including Wild Style (1983), Graffiti Rock (1984) and Stretch and Bobbito: Radio That Changed Lives (2015). Additionally, the exhibit will premiere exclusive pieces such as unmastered pre-release cassette tape of Nas debut album Illmatic.
Represent: Hip-Hop Photography will run through May 3, 2019.