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From Cash Money and No Limit to Lil Wayne, Birdman, Mystikal, Mannie Fresh, Juvenile, Big Freedia & Curren$y to the strong currents of underground hiphop and bounce music that sustain the tradition, New Orleans has been a central location for hiphop since the 1990s.
Today, rap music is arguably Louisiana’s most lucrative cultural export. But in the most widespread images of “New Orleans music,” the city’s rappers, producers and DJs that helped to build the tradition remain largely invisible. This, coupled with Hurricane Katrina, in which countless members of the city’s creative communities lost their lives or were displaced, many of whom remain unable to return, inspired a determination in many to help provide resources/further acknowledgment for artists and to add to the documentation/collection of hiphop and bounce oral histories.
The NOLA Hiphop Archive was founded by Holly Hobbs in 2012 to help address these issues. Thus far, the NOLA Hiphop Archive has conducted over 30 videotaped interviews with hiphop and bounce artists and pioneers in the city, including Mannie Fresh, Mystikal, Partners N Crime, Dee-1, Ricky B, DJ Raj Smoove, Nesby Phips, Nicky da B & Rusty Lazer, Queen Blackkold Madina (Academy Award-winning rapper & star of the documentary Trouble the Water) and more.
The Launch of the Digital Archive
These first 30 videotaped oral histories collected in 2012/2013 by the NOLA Hiphop Archive will be launched in conjunction with the Where They At bounce exhibit materials--which were exhibited in 2010 at the Smithsonian-affiliated Ogden Museum of Southern Art--in a community accessible digital archive beginning Spring 2014 at the Amistad Research Center at Tulane University. Once the digital archive is launched in Spring 2014, anyone will be able to access the interviews free of charge either in person at the Amistad Research Center on Tulane campus in New Orleans or online. Although the Amistad Research Center cannot provide financial assistance to us, with the help of Tulane University Amistad is able to offer the technological support involved in launching and maintaining this digital archive for years to come.
The NOLA Hiphop Archive is raising money to conduct 30 more interviews with leading hiphop and bounce artists, to be completed by the end of 2014. Shooting 30 more interviews will create a larger, more well-rounded digital archive at the Amistad Research Center and ensure we are documenting as many perspectives and voices as possible. Your money will be used to:
-Pay for the continued services of our director, videographer, and production assistant, who have all donated their time at no cost to the project thus far;
-Pay for video camera maintenance, tapes, a new tripod, and a new lavaliere microphone;
-Assist the Amistad Research Center in the creation of a small NOLA Hiphop Archive listening/viewing station for community members in one section of their library;
-Help us get the word out to community members thru further promotional schemes, marketing, and branding efforts.
**To date, all work conducted by the NOLA Hiphop Archive has been done on donated time and with donated resources. Small donations from Music Rising, the Tulane Summer Merit Fellowship program, and The New Orleans Center for the Gulf South have assisted in the collecting efforts.
Risks and challenges
Holly Hobbs is currently completing her PhD at Tulane University and writing her dissertation on post-Katrina hiphop and recovery in New Orleans. She has also worked as a promoter, artist manager, and musician within the New Orleans hiphop community since 2008 and has used her unique position to help navigate the many complex problems that arise in doing oral history work.
NOLA Hiphop Archive videographer Dick Darby is a lifelong resident of New Orleans and is a rapper, filmmaker, and music video director. Colin Meneghini, project Production Assistant, is also a lifelong resident of New Orleans and has an extensive personal archive of bounce oral histories, photographs, and ephemera. Truth Universal, Trinidad-born New Orleans resident and underground hiphop community leader and activist, serves as consultant on the project. Read/hear more about Truth Universal at http://www.truthuniversal.com.
There are many challenges that arise in doing work like this, and the launch of the digital archive at the Amistad Research Center is a hugely difficult task. Two years of planning, documentation and collection have gone into the Archive's work and our forthcoming digital archive launch via the Amistad Research Center. But with the help of community members and Amistad, we are confident that we will be able to continue this important and meaningful work while focusing on community outreach as a central goal.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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