Clockwise from upper left: DST spinning - London 1982, © Janette Beckman; Run DMC & posse - Hollis Queens NY, © Janette Beckman; Mary J. Blige at the NY Music Awards after party at China Club 1992, Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Photo by AlPereira, © Al Pereira; Andre 3000 and Big Boi of Outkast 2004, Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, © Janette Beckman; Queen Latifah during the filming of "Fly Girl" video, Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Photo by Al Pereira, © Al Pereira
As a musical, cultural and social force of the last 40 years, hip-hop is taking its place in the Smithsonian — an institution devoted to preserving and documenting our nation’s heritage.
That’s why the National Museum of African American History and Culture is partnering with our GRAMMY Award-winning record label, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, to create the Smithsonian Anthology of Hip-Hop and Rap — a cultural statement told through music, text and powerful visuals. And we need YOU to help make #HipHopHistory!
This will be the third major anthology produced by Smithsonian Folkways Recordings that tells the story of a defining era of music “of, by and for the people,” following the Anthology of American Folk Music and Jazz: The Smithsonian Anthology. It will also serve as an extension of the objects and stories of hip-hop already displayed in the galleries of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, offering perspective on the African American experience and its impact on American culture. The Anthology will be a tool for education as it explores hip-hop’s evolution and global influence.
Creating something this ambitious is not easy. The Smithsonian Anthology of Hip-Hop and Rap will be the first collection of its kind to include music from all the major labels as well as dozens of independent record labels.
We want to bring the Smithsonian Anthology of Hip-Hop and Rap to as many people as we can, and we want to make it as affordable as possible once it is available. But the costs of production, research, and licensing are high. That’s where you come in. We need YOU to help make this project a reality.
- More than 120 tracks on 9 CDs;
- A 300-page book with 10 essays, extensive track-by-track liner notes, and never-before-published images;
- A 9th Wonder Digital Remix based on Smithsonian Folkways' catalogue, available exclusively from the Smithsonian through this Kickstarter;
- A Free Digital Album download from Smithsonian Folkways Recordings!
The Smithsonian Anthology of Hip-Hop and Rap will illustrate different social and political trends within the genre, such as police brutality, feminism, and Afrocentrism. It will explore these themes through music from old school pioneers like the Sugarhill Gang and Roxanne Shanté to artists of today like Kanye West and Nicki Minaj — and four decades’ worth of essential names in between.
The track list is still being finalized — a major reason why we need your support!
The Anthology was developed by the Smithsonian in collaboration with an advisory board comprised of members of the hip-hop community including artists Chuck D, MC Lyte, Questlove and 9th Wonder; industry veterans Bill Adler and Bill Stephney; author, journalist and music critic Jeff Chang; and university scholars and authors Adam Bradley (University of Colorado, Boulder), Cheryl Keyes (UCLA) and Mark Anthony Neal (Duke).
The committee reached out to more than 50 artists, scholars, DJs, photographers, filmmakers and other members of the hip-hop community for their input into the track list and final package.
Cey Adams, artist and founding creative director of Def Jam, designed the Anthology.
The Anthology is currently planned for release in December 2018. A successful Kickstarter will help us stay on schedule! Backers will also be the first to receive the Anthology, plus receive rewards that won’t be available anywhere else.
First and foremost—the Anthology! Backing the project at $100 and above on Kickstarter means you'll be among the first to receive the box set —plus you’ll get bonus swag the Smithsonian will make available only to Kickstarter backers.
Backers at $100 and above will also receive a digital-only track by 9th Wonder that the Smithsonian won't make available anywhere else, remixing sounds pulled from the Smithsonian Folkways archives.
And thanks to our amazing backers who met the challenge to reach $200,000 by Nov 6, every backer who pledges $100 and above gets a Free Digital Album download from Smithsonian Folkways Recordings! This includes albums from the African American Legacy Series, a multi-year collaboration with the National Museum of African American History and Culture that explores the rich African American musical and oral heritage in the United States.
Backers of the project at higher levels get even more bundled with their Anthology, including a cling-on decal of the box set cover art designed by Cey Adams, illustrated hip-hop trading cards, and a subscription to Smithsonian magazine.
We're honored and excited that halfway into our campaign, documentary photographer Janette Beckman donated two Keith Haring prints to help make the Anthology a reality! We're offering each at the $1,500 level. Each print is signed by the photographer and is a limited edition artwork, 15" x 17" in size.
Janette Beckman moved to New York City in 1983 and was drawn to the underground hip-hop scene. She photographed pioneers such as Run DMC, Slick Rick, Salt 'N' Pepa, Grandmaster Flash, and Big Daddy Kane, and her works are featured in the National Museum of African American History and Culture’s collection.
Those of you who want to support the project at lower levels can still get the decal and the trading cards, which the Smithsonian won't be offering anywhere else.
Smithsonian Folkways Recordings has a long history of producing box sets that chronicle African American musical traditions. Back this project at the $400 level and you’ll receive the Smithsonian Anthology of Hip-Hop and Rap plus Jazz: The Smithsonian Anthology and Leadbelly: The Smithsonian Collection.
We’re also excited to offer one-of-a-kind Adidas, transformed into works of art by Cey Adams, founding creative director of Def Jam and designer of the Anthology. For sneakerheads, this will be the ultimate limited-edition pair in your collection.
You can also get a limited-edition fine art print of an alternate album cover from Public Enemy’s Fear of a Black Planet, signed and numbered by artists B.E. Johnson and Cey Adams, and Chuck D himself.
Back the project at the highest level and Questlove will be your guide through the National Museum of African American History and Culture. You’ll also get to check out the archives of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings— a trove of musical history on vinyl.
If our project is completed and the goal is met, you will be asked to fill out a survey so that we can send you your rewards. The Smithsonian Institution is unable to provide your rewards or recognize any gift you made unless the informational survey is completed.
Once rewards are shipped, please allow an additional 4-6 weeks for your reward(s) to ship internationally.
Important Information About the Tour Rewards
Some of the rewards are tours offered at a specific time and place. The Smithsonian is not responsible for any backer’s travel or other costs to participate in such experiences. Further, if a cause beyond the Smithsonian's control requires rescheduling or cancellation of an experience, the Smithsonian is not responsible for any additional travel or other costs a backer may incur in order to participate at the new time. The Smithsonian cannot guarantee that experiences occurring on dates yet to be announced, or that must be rescheduled, will occur on a date that is convenient for all backers.
Important Information About the Free Digital Download from Smithsonian Folkways Recordings
The Smithsonian will provide participating backers whose support of the Project exceeds the fair market value of the goods and services provided with an acknowledgment letter that reflects the estimated value of this download, $9.99, in the value of the goods and services they are receiving.
- Artist and licensing fees for 120+ tracks (and the samples they use);
- Research, essays, notes, design, and image rights for the book;
- Production costs and fulfillment of the full Anthology package;
- Kickstarter fees and costs to produce rewards.
The Smithsonian has always relied on private support in addition to federal funds. In fact, the Smithsonian was founded 171 years ago by a private donation to the United States government! Federal appropriations provide the foundation of the Smithsonian's operating budget and support core functions – safeguarding our collections, building operations and maintenance as well as staffing. However, we rely on private donations of all sizes to support many of our priorities, including research, educational outreach and special projects.
In other words, your support will make the Anthology possible. By backing the project, you will help the Smithsonian tell the powerful story of hip-hop and its place in American culture. You will truly be the reason it is brought to life – and we'll keep you involved as we create, design, produce and ship it to homes, including yours!
Your Pledge Helps Support the Smithsonian
The Smithsonian Institution is a nonprofit organization exempt from tax under section 501(c)(3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code. Depending on your level of support for the project, a portion of your payment may be deductible for U.S. federal income tax purposes. Where goods and services are provided by the Smithsonian Institution in exchange for your payment, the amount that is deductible is limited to the excess of your total payment over the fair market value of the goods and services provided. Please refer to the list of reward tiers to the right of the page for these values. The tax information on this page is provided for U.S. tax purposes only. Please consult your tax advisor regarding the deductibility of your payment.
About Smithsonian Folkways Recordings
Smithsonian Folkways Recordings has, in its near 70-year history, released two landmark anthologies capturing the history and defining an era of revolutionary music: The Anthology of American Folk Music (1952) and Jazz: The Smithsonian Anthology (2011). The Smithsonian Anthology of Hip-Hop and Rap will be the third such undertaking.
Smithsonian Folkways Recordings is the nonprofit record label of the Smithsonian Institution. We are dedicated to supporting cultural diversity and increased understanding among peoples through the documentation, preservation, and dissemination of sound. Our collection consists of more than 3,000 albums and 43,000 tracks along with videos, playlists, podcasts, lesson plans for teachers, and Smithsonian Folkways Magazine.
We believe that musical and cultural diversity contributes to the vitality and quality of life throughout the world. Through the dissemination of audio recordings and educational materials we seek to strengthen people's engagement with their own cultural heritage and to enhance their awareness and appreciation of the cultural heritage of others.
About the National Museum of African American History and Culture
The National Museum of African American History and Culture is the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture.
It was established by Act of Congress in 2003, following decades of efforts to promote and highlight the contributions of African Americans. To date, the Museum has collected nearly 40,000 objects and more than 180,000 individuals have become charter members. The Museum opened to the public on September 24, 2016, as the 19th and newest museum of the Smithsonian Institution.
Box set images by Michael G. Stewart and Jati Lindsay
Risks and challenges
If the funding goal is not met, we'll remain dedicated to producing the Anthology, but it will be delayed until the required funding is secured. There is very little that stands in our way of meeting this goal once we have the funds in hand. We have an actionable plan, a realistic timeline, and – most importantly – the in-house expertise to get the job done.
- (30 days)