In episode 04 of Brooklyn Historical Society’s podcast Flatbush + Main, co-hosts Zaheer Ali and Julie Golia examine the history and evolution of hip hop in Brooklyn. Joined by Wes Jackson, founder and Executive Director of the Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival, we consider how Brooklyn shaped the trajectory of this powerful cultural genre – and how hip hop, in turn, shaped Brooklyn and Brooklynites. We chat with media producer, archivist, and educator Martha Diaz about what it means to document and archive such a multilayered and global movement as hip hop. Finally, in the “Voices of Brooklyn” segment, we listen to author, filmmaker, and cultural critic Nelson George describe how hip hop communities operated on the ground in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Fort Greene.
We also got to attend the 12th Annual Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival and speak to some fans about what Brooklyn hip hop means to them. You’ll hear their reflections, thoughts, and experiences throughout the episode.
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02:45 – Histories and Ideas: Hip Hop’s History in Brooklyn, with Wes Jackson
15:09 – Into the Archives: Archiving Hip Hop, with Martha Diaz
27:50 – Voices of Brooklyn: Nelson George
Segment 1: Histories and Ideas
Want to read more about hip hop’s history? Take a look at Tricia Rose’s Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America and Jeff Chang’s Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip Hop Generation.
Segment 2: Into the Archives
I particularly enjoyed exploring this interactive timeline from the Education Center.
The Universal Hip Hop Museum has a great YouTube channel. Here’s a short video introduction to the museum:
More hip hop archives:
The Steven Hager Hip Hop Research Collection, Schomburg Center, New York Public Library
Cornell University’s Rare Book and Manuscript library collects actively on the history of hip hop.
Harvard University is home to the Hip Hop Archive and Research Institute.
Segment 3: Voices of Brooklyn
Below is the full interview with Nelson George. This interview is being made available online, thanks to a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) of the National Archives and Records Administration.
We also recommend George’s film Brooklyn Boheme, which looks at the flowering community of black artists living in Fort Greene in the 1980s and 1990s.
Segment 4: Endorsements
Our colleague Marcia Ely, Vice President for Programs and External Affairs at BHS, joins us to discuss “Truman Capote’s Brooklyn: The Lost Photographs of David Attie,” an exhibition that she organized here at BHS. The exhibition got a great write up in the New York Times last week.
Zaheer endorses BHS’s Brooklyn on Screen film series. At 7pm on August 1, 2016, BHS will show Spike Lee’s iconic “Do the Right Thing.” Get tickets here.
Julie endorses the BHS event “Crown Heights Encounters: Listening Back, Moving Forward.” On August 10, 2016, at 6:30pm, Errol Louis will host this three-part event honoring the past and future of the neighborhood of Crown Heights. Get tickets here.
Both of these events are FREE.