Exhibitions: Hip-Hop Nation: Roots, Rhymes and Rage

  • 1st Floor
    Arts of Africa, Steinberg Family Sculpture Garden
  • 2nd Floor
    Arts of Asia and the Islamic World
  • 3rd Floor
    Egyptian Art, European Paintings
  • 4th Floor
    Contemporary Art, Decorative Arts, Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art
  • 5th Floor
    Luce Center for American Art

On View: Still Life with Peaches

With a few objects arranged on a ledge before an indistinct background, Raphaelle Peale’s paintings suggest a restraint that perhaps r...

Hiroshige's One Hundred Famous Views of Edo

Hiroshige's 118 woodblock landscape and genre scenes of mid-nineteenth-century Tokyo, is one of the greatest achievements of Japanese art.

    On View: "Numero Uno" Armchair

    Today when we think of where inventive contemporary design is manufactured, we often think of Italy. This, however, was not always the c...

    Want to add this object to a set? Please join the Posse, or log in.


    DEC_E2000i022.jpg DEC_E2000i023.jpg DEC_E2000i024.jpg DEC_E2000i025.jpg DEC_E2000i026.jpg DEC_E2000i021.jpg DEC_E2000i020.jpg DEC_E2000i019.jpg DEC_E2000i017.jpg DEC_E2000i018.jpg DEC_E2000i016.jpg DEC_E2000i015.jpg DEC_E2000i014.jpg DEC_E2000i013.jpg DEC_E2000i011.jpg DEC_E2000i012.jpg DEC_E2000i010.jpg DEC_E2000i009.jpg DEC_E2000i008.jpg DEC_E2000i007.jpg DEC_E2000i006.jpg DEC_E2000i005.jpg DEC_E2000i004.jpg DEC_E2000i003.jpg DEC_E2000i002.jpg DEC_E2000i001.jpg

    Hip-Hop Nation: Roots, Rhymes and Rage

    • Dates: September 22, 2000 through December 31, 2000
    • Collections: Decorative Arts
    Exhibition Didactics ?
    • Hip-Hop Nation: Roots, Rhymes, and Rage
      Hip-hop has always been about making something out of little or nothing: two turntables, a microphone, a piece of cardboard, and a can of spray paint. Few knew that these simple items would produce the greatest American cultural innovation of the past thirty years. Recognizing that this art form, which has grown from an attitude to a culture, is now the chief way young people communicate all over the globe, the Brooklyn Museum of Art presents Hip-Hop Nation: Roots, Rhymes, and Rage.

      Hip-hop was born in New York City in the early 1970s as a vehicle for innercity youth (mainly black and Latino) to throw parties, and to make money as DJs, dancers, and promoters. From the very beginning, hip-hop has consisted of four major elements: DJing, MCing, breakdancing (or b-boying), and graffiti writing (graffiti art). These four were joined by a fifth important feature: an urban look and sensibility that has greatly influenced American fashion.

      Now a billion-dollar industry, hip-hop has become the voice of young people on the planet—crossing racial, ethnic, gender, class, language, and regional barriers. And hip-hop is manifest everywhere, pushing the sales of products as diverse as clothing and soft drinks, and turning rappers like LL Cool J, Queen Latifah, and Will Smith into multimedia stars. Featuring vintage clothing, early audio equipment, handbills, classic photos and magazine covers, videos, and interactive stations, Hip-Hop Nation offers visitors the opportunity to explore the history and evolution of this global culture.

      Hip-Hop Nation: Roots, Rhymes, and Rage
      was made possible at the BMA through the generous support of Def Jam Recording. Additional support was provided by the BMA Restricted Exhibitions Fund and the National Endowment for the Arts. Rolling Stone, 360hip-hop.com, and Hot 97 are media sponsors of Hip-Hop Nation.

      The exhibition was organized by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and made possible, in part, by a generous contribution from Levi’s. Design concept and original installation by Alternative Design, Inc. The exhibition was guest curated by Kevin Powell

    • Hip-Hop Fashion 2000
      Much of the fashion seen in this exhibition was worn by the celebrities of hip-hop. Other fashion components were put together by the exhibition’s curators from material lent by well-known clothing manufacturers. But the real fashion of hip-hop comes from young people on the street. In order to capture the authenticity of hip-hop fashion as it exists late in the year 2000, we asked students from the New York City Museum School to dress these mannequins with their own clothing just as they would dress themselves. Here are the results, along with their thoughts about hip-hop.

    • Hip-Hop Fashion 2000
      Much of the fashion seen in this exhibition was worn by the celebrities of hip-hop. Other fashion components were put together by the exhibition’s curators from material lent by well-known clothing manufacturers. But the real fashion of hip-hop comes from young people on the street. In order to capture the authenticity of hip-hop fashion as it exists late in the year 2000, we asked students from the New York City Museum School to dress these mannequins with their own clothing just as they would dress themselves. Here are the results, along with their thoughts about hip-hop.

    • Hip-Hop New York
      New York City is the undisputed birthplace of hip-hop culture. What began as a party music has transformed itself into global youth declarations, with New York City remaining the hub and heart of hip-hop. While the Bronx and Harlem were the initiators of hip-hop in the early 1970s, the remainder of the New York metropolitan area (Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island, as well as Long Island, Westchester County, and northern New Jersey) would eventually contribute to the development and evolution of the culture. Indeed, legendary “battles” have occurred between boroughs (for example, The Juice Crew from Queens versus Boogie Down Productions from the Bronx in the mid-1980s), adding to the city’s aura as an incubator of creativity and unabashed competitiveness. If hip-hop is an urban-based culture that has entered the commercial mainstream, then what better and more fertile ground could there be than New York City, the essential urban place and the center of American commerce? It is little surprise, then, that New York City’s hip-hop scene continues to dictate the music, the fashion, the language, and the attitudes of so many young people over twenty-five years after hip-hop’s creation.

    • What Role for Women? Gender Issues in Hip-Hop
      Hip-hop is and has always been a male-centered art form, founded by working-class black and Latino young men. Inner-city males have used hip-hop to express and empower themselves in the face of racism and classism, substandard school systems, and a lack of meaningful job opportunities. But because hip-hop is a subculture of the larger American society, it is little wonder that the same patriarchy, sexism, and misogyny that permeate all levels of mainstream America are also omnipresent in hip-hop.

      This oppressive and derogatory behavior notwithstanding, some women have managed to use hip-hop as their personal platform. Through the feminist anthems of Queen Latifah, the gritty street tales of MC Lyte, Lauryn Hill’s spiritual manifestos, and the sexual shock raps of Lil’ Kim, hip-hop women have offered alternative perspectives to the often one-dimensional depictions presented by men.

    • North, South, East, and West Regionalism in Hip-Hop
      Hip-hop was born and developed in the Bronx in the early to mid-1970s. With the commercial breakthrough of New Jersey–based rap crew The Sugar Hill Gang in 1979, hip-hop began its steady push from its New York roots into a national phenomenon. Cross-country hip-hop tours, early hip-hop films like Beat Street, Breakin’, And Wild Style, and music videos all helped to popularize the culture. And while New York City is still universally hailed as the birthplace of hip-hop, there is no denying that the South (Master P, Lil Wayne, Jermaine Dupri, Luther Campbell, Trick Daddy, Outkast, and the Geto Boys), the Midwest (Bones Thugs-N-Harmony, Twista, Common, Eminem, and MC Chill), and the West Coast (Ice-T, N.W.A, Snoop Dogg, Tupac Shakur, E-40, Digital Underground, The Coup, and Too Short) have all developed their own brand of hip-hop complete with local dialects, styles of clothing, and regional tales and references, much as the blues did generations before.

    • Controversy Outrage and the Rise of Gangsta Rap
      The 1980s were a difficult time for urban America. Crack cocaine hit the streets mid-decade; guns and gang violence proliferated; homicide and imprisonment rates skyrocketed; and a general sense of hopelessness pervaded America’s ghettoes.

      Hip-hop had always documented this dark side, and it seemed that an entire sub-genre would crop up around these urban blues. If hip-hop is black America’s CNN, then Compton, California’s N.W.A was its primetime reporter. In 1989 N.W.A—Niggaz With Attitude—released Straight Outta Compton, in the midst of the Golden Era’s “positive” black messages. Considered one of hip-hop’s finest albums, it also became the music’s most controversial because of its blunt depiction of West Coast street life, particularly its infamous “F––– tha Police” track. Officers refused to provide security at N.W.A concerts, and the F.B.I. launched an investigation.

      More controversy followed. In 1990, Miami-based rap group 2 Live Crew was tried on obscenity charges for their graphically sexual lyrics. The Crew’s trial became a watershed case for artists’ First Amendment rights. In 1992, Ice-T (and his Warner Brothers label) was attacked for releasing “Cop Killer.” Then in 1994, civil-rights veteran C. Delores Tucker spearheaded Congressional hearings on the negative impact of gangsta rap. Hip-hop’s basic worthiness was now being called into question.

      When two former friends, Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G., became the chief protagonists in a media-driven West Coast versus East Coast rivalry, the end result was death: Tupac Shakur was the victim of a drive-by shooting in September 1996 in Las Vegas; in March 1997 The Notorious B.I.G. was similarly murdered in Los Angeles. Both cases remain unsolved.

      These high-profile murders tainted hip-hop, just as the drug-related deaths of Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix had tainted rock music a generation before. Nevertheless, gangsta rap came to dominate the pop charts by the mid-1990s, and controversy seemed only to fuel hip-hop’s popularity.

    • Hip-Hop Style Becomes Fashion Rage
      By the late 1990s, hip-hop had fully infiltrated the fashion industry. A movement that had begun on the street, where young people transformed whatever was available into a personal style, was now for sale, ready-to-wear, in the department stores and malls of America. This explosion of a new look, and its spread from the urban streets to the youth population across the country, provided fertile ground for hip-hop entrepreneurs. Alongside the fashion name brands that had been co-opted by the “old school” of hip-hop fashion, new labels arose that were specifically designed for a young population infused with the hip-hop spirit. Companies such as Phat Farm, Triple Five Soul, Wu-Wear, and FUBU (whose very name—For Us, By Us—underscores this transition) now designed and manufactured clothing that brought hip-hop into the mainstream of American fashion.

    • Pop Goes the Culture
      Hip-hop was once a music made and supported by the inner city, but by the early 1990s white youths, particularly males, were fast becoming the largest consumers of rap records. The huge multi-platinum success of MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice made hip-hop a legitimate cultural force.

      The 1990s have witnessed hip-hop’s strongest commercial success to date. Platinum artists exist in every part of the country, be it Cleveland (Bones Thugs-N-Harmony), Atlanta (Outkast), or New Orleans (Master P). And platinum artists now include black rappers, like Puff Daddy, as well as white rappers like Eminem and Latino rappers like the late Big Pun. Hip-hop has become the great cultural unifier, bridging racial, ethnic, class, and regional gaps as no music has since the infant years of rock and roll. It is no coincidence that many of today’s leading rock bands, like Limp Bizkit, Korn, and Rage Against the Machine, are heavily influenced by hip-hop.

      And because of its urgent and accessible language, hip-hop is used by Madison Avenue ad execs to sell everything from soft drinks and blue jeans to fast food and feature films. One of Hollywood’s biggest box-office attractions, Will Smith, owes his career to his start in Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince.

      Other rappers, most notably Queen Latifah, LL Cool J, and Ice Cube, have also turned hit rap careers into star turns on TV and in film. And hip-hop has stretched its reach to comedy, heavily influencing the in-your-face comedy of Brooklyn native Chris Rock.

      Twenty years after “Rapper’s Delight,” and nearly thirty years after this music and culture were born, hip-hop remains vibrant and—as evidenced by hip-hop’s popularity in places as different as Japan, Germany, and South Africa—is currently the most significant youth art form on earth.

    • Accessories
      The accessories that dress up an outfit have always been a major part of its effect. Jewelry and sneakers are two essential hip-hop accessories. Jewelry has been a status symbol in almost every society. Hiphop jewelry puts an American spin on the style of gold jewelry within certain traditional African cultures and shares the same aesthetic: if gold is good, more is better.

      Sneakers, on the other hand, represent the introduction of a thoroughly modern commodity. The pursuit of the perfect sneaker—as quickly changing as any fashion fad—reflects the importance of labels in hiphop fashion. Many of the items on display here were once worn by celebrities. But as with all hip-hop fashion, there has been a constant exchange between the stage and the street.

    advanced 107,779 records currently online.

    Separate each tag with a space: painting portrait.

    Or join words together in one tag by using double quotes: "Brooklyn Museum."

    Recently Tagged Exhibitions

    Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in /home/www/default/views/opencollection/_tags_list.php on line 15

    Recent Comments

    "Hi Aimee, I think you mean Oreet Ashery? More information can be found in her profile on the Feminist Art Base: http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/eascfa/feminist_art_base/gallery/oreet_ashery.php?i=266"
    By shelley

    "Hi, I am trying to find the name of the artist who took and is in the photograph that follows- http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/opencollection/exhibitions/664/Global_Feminisms_Remix/image/216/Global_Feminisms_Remix._%7C08032007_-_03032008%7C._Installation_view. I believe the artist takes pictures of herself dressed as a man but then exposes her femaleness, as in the photo of her dressed as an Ascetic Jew exposing her breast. Can you help me find her information? Thanks in advance- Aimee Record"
    By Aimee Record

    "For more information on Louis Schanker and the New York Art Scene of the mid 1900's go to http://www.LouisSchanker.info "
    By Lou Siegel

    Join the posse or log in to work with our collections. Your tags, comments and favorites will display with your attribution.

    The Brooklyn Museum Archives maintains a collection of historical press releases. Many of these have been scanned and made available on our Web site. The releases range from brief announcements to extensive articles; images of the original releases have been included for your reference. Please note that all the original typographical elements, including occasional errors, have been retained. Releases may also contain errors as a result of the scanning process. We welcome your feedback about corrections.
    For select exhibitions, we have made available some or all of the informative text panels written by the curator or organizer. Called "didactics," these panels are presented to the public during the exhibition's run, and we reproduce them here for your reference and archival interest. Please note that any illustrations on the original didactics have not been retained, and that the text may contain errors as a result of the scanning process. We welcome your feedback about corrections.
    For select exhibitions, we have made available some or all of the objects from the Brooklyn Museum collection that were in the installation. These objects are listed here for your reference and archival interest, but the list may be incomplete and does not contain objects owned by other institutions or lenders.
    This section utilizes the New York Times API in order to display related materials in New York Times publications.