The hip-hop we know today– the kind that offers out arenas, racks up Grammy awards and gets significant radio airtime– grew from DJing and breakdancing in New York City.
A brand-new exhibit at Fotografiska, the photography museum in the Flatiron District, traces the genre’s advancement from its early days to today through 200 powerful images by 57 photographers. “Hip-Hop: Conscious, Unconscious,” which opened today, runs through May 21. The exhibition commemorates hip-hop as the influential genre turns 50 years old.
RECOMMENDED: Celebrate hip-hop History Month with this display in the Bronx
“There was a time when hip-hop wasn’t conscious of itself. There was a time when it was conscious of itself where we started to see ourselves and comprehend ourselves through the video and photography and everything else which’s what this show represents,” stated Sacha Jenkins, CCO of the entertainment business Mass Appeal, who co-curated the exhibit with photography specialist Sally Berman. “What hip-hop is, is a reflection of itself and a reaction to the environment. … Through hip-hop you can discover a lot about what’s going on in our communities and what requires to alter.”
Picture: By Charlie Ahearn|Grand Master Flash, Debbie Harry, Fab 5 Freddy, Chris Stein of Blondie and pal (1981)/ Thanks To Fotografiska New york city and copyright of the artist
Fifty years ago on August 11, 1973, Kool Herc (aka Clive Campbell) tossed a back-to-school celebration at 1520 Sedgwick Opportunity in the Bronx; numerous call it the founding party of hip-hop, though Jenkins stated other DJs pre-date this by a bit.
“Youths found a way to be innovative,” Jenkins said. “Prior to hip-hip understood itself, it was a method for us to express ourselves.”
The display begins because unconscious period showcasing stories of everyday individuals– not hip-hop stars– in the South Bronx. Images document graffiti, the Savage Skulls gang posing for a picture, artfully painted jeans coats and kids break dancing.
“We didn’t understand what it was, it was just what we did,” stated Jenkins stated. “Eventually hop-hop started to comprehend there was an aesthetic we had developed as kids in NYC.”
Walking through the timeline of hip-hop, you’ll see a bootleg 8-track of “Rap artist’s Delite” by the Sugar Hill Gang, a handwritten invite to an early hip-hop celebration and a Village Voice post entitled “Physical Graffiti: Breaking is Tough to Do.”
Photograph: Josh Cheuse|Beastie Boys Radio City New York City (1985)/ Courtesy of Fotografiska New York and copyright of the artist
As the exhibition continues, it reveals the motion solidifying into a renowned category.
Each borough of New York City used its own spin on the music. “Brooklyn doesn’t seem like Queens, and Queens does not sound like the Bronx and lucrative Manhattan is always smashin.’ When it comes to the island of Staten– The Wu-Tang “W” beams from the slums of Shaolin to the remainder of the world,” Jenkins wrote in a text panel at the exhibition.
Photograph: By Jonathan Mannion|Technique Daddy, Miami, FL (2004)/ Thanks To Fotografiska New york city and copyright of the artist
However the program isn’t practically New York City. It likewise spotlights Southern hip-hop and West Coast artists as well, all leading up to the musical leaders these days.
Here’s simply a handful of the artists you’ll see in pictures: Tupac, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Ice Cube, The Well-known B.I.G., Snoop Dogg, The Game, DMX, Ja Rule, Xzibit, Dr. Dre, Mary J. Blige, Lil’ Kim, Sis Souljah, Nas, Approach Man, Talib Kweli, Jay-Z, Lauryn Hill, The Beastie Boys, The Roots, Foxy Brown, Eve, P. Diddy, Eminem, Lil Wayne, Erykah Badu, Future, Technique Daddy, Pharrell, Nicki Minaj, Megan Thee Stallion, Kendrick Lamar, Post Malone, Mac Miller, Drake, 21 Savage and Cardi B.
The photos evolve as the category progresses, from photojournalistic street scenes to glossy magazine-style images.
Picture: Theo Wenner|Future, Atlanta (2016)/ Courtesy of Fotografiska New York and copyright of the artist
Images vary from famous photos you’ve most likely seen before to unusual portraits. The exhibition covers 5 decades and two stories of the museum. Fotografiska will also offer programming including family workshops, zine making, talks, panel discussions and yoga.
In addition to the exhibit at Fotografiska, there’s another display in The Bronx hip-hop fans will not want to miss.
” [R] Evolution of Hip Hop” is on view through the summertime of 2023 at Bronx Terminal Market exploring the category from 1986-1990, known as the golden age of hip-hop. The display is put on by The Universal Hip Hop Museum, which is currently under building and slated to open in 2024 at Bronx Point. A dollar of every ticket offered to the Fotografiska exhibit will benefit The Universal Hip Hop Museum.
Photograph: By Campbell Addy|Megan Thee Stallion positioning for The Cut Publication (2022)/ Courtesy of Fotografiska New york city and copyright of the artist
Keep an eye out for more Hip Hop 50 events this year, all celebrating of 5 decades of the most influential popular culture motion of its generation. Mass Appeal’s produced the exhibit in partnership with Fotografiska as part of the company’s Hip Hop 50 cross-platform initiative.
“Hip-hop is for everyone, and I believe that’s a stunning thing,” Jenkins said. “We simply should not forget where it originates from and what it truly implies.”