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"Hip-Hop Nation: Roots, Rhymes, and Rage"
2000-09-22 until 2000-12-31
Brooklyn Museum of Art
Brooklyn, NY, USA

Hip-Hop Nation: Roots, Rhymes, and Rage will present the explosion of hip-hop--the most influential American cultural phenomenon of the past twenty-five years. On view at the Brooklyn Museum of Art from September 22 through December 31, 2000, this multimedia exhibition will feature over 400 items from the 1970s to the present, among them hip-hop fashions, videos, and artifacts.

Hip-Hop Nation will showcase clothing and accessories worn by artists such as Afrika Bambaataa, Run-DMC, The Beastie Boys, Salt N' Pepa, Tupac Shakur, Puff Daddy, Eminem, and Missy Elliot. Other items include manuscripts of lyrics by artists Public Enemy, Ice-T, and Arrested Development; a letter from the F.B.I. to Priority Records, expressing concern over the group N.W.A.; and audio components used by Grandmaster Flash.

The exhibition will also include artifacts of Brooklyn-bred hip-hop artists, such as The Notorious B.I.G. and Jay-Z, as well as interactive D.J. stations, notable photographs and magazine covers, and music-video displays detailing hip-hop's history and its four elements - DJing, MCing, graffiti writing, and breakdancing. Video installations created by YO-TV (Youth Organizers Television) will provide current teenage and young-adult perspectives on hip-hop.

Hip-Hop Nation will be organized into five sections examining the development of hip-hop. The first, The Block Party, introduces the different components of hip-hop. It also includes live demonstrations and computerized interactive terminals.

The second section, The Roots, is a look at the beginnings of hip-hop and features vintage clothing, audio equipment from the 1970s and early 1980s, a video installation, and entire array of original party and club handbills. It also includes costumes and other items related to such hip-hop pioneers as Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash, Afrika Bambaataa, and Kurtis Blow.

The Golden Era, section three of the exhibition covers the mid-eighties through 1990, hip-hop's most creative and influential period. The era produced the remarkable rhyme skills of Rakim and Slick Rick, the feminist flavor of Salt N' Pepa, MC Lyte, Monie Love, and Queen Latifah, the agitprop poetry of Public Enemy, and the gangsta soundtrack of N.W.A. Highlights include classic photos and original album cover art; clothing from P.E's Chuck D, Salt N' Pepa, Run-DMC, Queen Latifah, LL Cool J, and others, as well as original notes for De La Soul's landmark record 3 Feet High and Rising. A video installation accompanies this section.

Section four is Controversy: Outrage and the Rise of Gangsta Rap. It documents the period when the subculture of gangsta rap came to dominate radio airwaves and garnered the bulk of the media's attention. Such events as 2 Live Crew's infamous obscenity trial and the intense criticism of Ice-T's Cop Killer record (which was actually a rock song performed by his band, Body Count) marked hip-hop's arrival in mainstream America. By the mid-1990s, hip-hop would lose two of its major icons to tragedy: first Tupac Shakur, then The Notorious B.I.G. were the victims of still-unsolved drive-by shootings. This section also features numerous court documents and newspaper articles, as well as artifacts from the collections of Snoop Dogg, Ice-T, N.W.A., and the Geto Boys. Finally, an X-rated room highlights some of hip-hop's controversial lyrics. The last section, Pop Goes the Culture, acknowledges that hip-hop has become the dominant American young culture. Since MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice in the early 1990s, hip-hop has reigned over the pop charts, along the way influencing R&B performers (TLC, R. Kelly, Mary J. Blige), rock acts (Rage Against the Machine, Limp Bizkit, Kid Rock), and pop acts (Backstreet Boyz, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera). Hip-hop's mainstream invasion has also transformed fashion, language, and the way that Madison Avenue markets to youth in America and the young world. Pop Goes the Culture includes costumes worn by such artists as Puff Daddy, Missy Elliott, Eminem, Will Smith, The Beastie Boys, Jay-Z, and others. It also contains personal items from the estates of The Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur.

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