2nd Scene/Culture City: The history of Chicago's local hip hop scene.
I have been a lover of hiphop culture for a long time, but some time during my young adult years I distanced myself from it because I thought that was the adult thing to do. The older I got I still found myself drawn to it in many ways. I started a blog called alwaysabgirl to talk about women in hiphop as well as express feelings about hiphop and aging.
All that talk about aging got me thinking about hiphop history and who was telling those stories. It also got me thinking about how we wouldn't be here to tell it ourselves someday.
While researching literature and hip hop history it also became glaringly apparent that all it focused on the west or east coast and that left a great many areas with no recognition.
History is written by those who take ownership of it. If Chicago's rich and growing scene is to be documented, we are going to have to do the work ourselves. Anyone who is a part of the scene can tell you, that is what we have always done, create a new path for others to follow.
I am a long time member of the local scene and as such I see the gap in knowledge about Chicago hip hop on the national scene and locally.
Now is an excellent time to begin the process of collecting stories and artifacts. This is our project's focus, collect the stories while we are still young enough to tell them as it happened, not the revisionist history that comes with time.
When hiphop culture is discussed in a historical context it’s always an east coast versus west coast discussion. This oral history, serial documentary and archive’s function is to represent the 2nd scene and document it.
An oral history project is of course the most appropriate way to document the 2nd scene since the art of the emcee follows in the tradition of the griot, the ancient and masterful storyteller. The documentation of the 2nd scene will also be maintained with the help of a digital online archive that will include video as well as stills of artifacts. It will be readily available, scaleable and self sustaining. The fifth element of hiphop is knowledge. Preservation of all of its history is critical to the culture.
The archive seeks observers and participants of the Chicago scene hiphop scene from 1970s until the present. We seek input from all MCs, B-Boys and B-Girls, Graf writers and DJs, Tagging and Breaking Crews, Activists, Club Owners, Promoters and Club Goers. We will begin with the 1980 era. As we anticipate that the 1990s and 1980s era videos and artifacts will be easiest to obtain and archive. The 1970s era is still being heavily researched.
An oral history, documentary and archive of local Chicago hiphop history readily available online.
This is a project with many moving parts.
Serial online video documentary that will include in depth full episodes/interviews as well as an overview of Chicago's hiphop history for each era. Ideally we'd like to do one for each decade until the current period ending in 2010.
The development of an online searchable digital archive where videos, photos and primary documents and artifacts will be accessible and dowloadable for a small fee in order to keep the project sustainable and scaleable into the future and beyond our creation and leadership. Long term this database would be multilingual as well.
The physical creation of an archive/library where the primary sources, documents and footage could be housed and utilized for research. The archive would provide easy access to the history of Chicago hiphop and be a tool for the community, performers, historians and researchers well into the 21st century. The archive would preserve and spread knowledge in a way that empowers the local and national hiphop communities and acknowledges and respects those that helped develop it.
Now clearly the size of this project is massive. We are only asking for enough to get us started.
Therese"Rheal" Ferguson and John Bennett AKA JB are University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana alumni. Previously they worked on a hip hop conference together, years later they come together to work on this project.
Therese Ferguson has a MPA with a non profit focus and BA in African American studies from Roosevelt University. She has focused the last five years of her career in the education and culture non profit arena. She is also a ex-emcee, promoter, spoken word artist and writer. Currently she blogs about hiphop and aging and women in hiphop though not necessarily in that order.
John Bennett is a graduate student in Elementary Education at Chicago State University. He is a former teacher and community activist, who now works in social research with the University of Michigan at Ann-Arbor. He is a "real-life documentarian" who grew up in the film industry and seeks to open eyes to macro issues instead of the mainstream micro issues a lot of others love to focus on.
How or Where does my money go
Your donations will go to equipment and editing costs as well as the building/creation of the actual digital archive. Which is quite the undertaking-- design, database creation, readability of scans, cross referencing for easy searchability, search engine optimization, a digital archive that will out live us, but not its usefulness.
So What Now?
Now you've listened to our story. It is our hope that you agree that the history of hiphop in areas other than New York and California is relevant to the historical context of the growth, expansion and impact of the culture. We need you to donate, donate and donate. It's an all or nothing game folks. Either we raise the 20,000 or we get nothing. Tell your friends, tell your enemies, tell mama and 'nem. We'd appreciate it. Review the various donation amounts and give what you can. We'd gratefully and humbly take any amount you can spare and in return you get to tell a cool story, help make history and get a fresh reward. Thanks for taking the time to review and hope to hear from you soon! Peace.