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Flatbush + Main Episode 04: Hip Hop in Brooklyn

By Julie Golia

Posted on July 27, 2016

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.

As always, you can email us at [email protected] or leave a comment on this post with questions or suggestions. And don’t forget to subscribe to Flatbush + Main and to rate us on iTunes, Stitcher, or whatever platform you use to listen to podcasts.


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

Learn more about Wes Jackson’s work at Brooklyn Bodega and the Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival.

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

Learn more about Martha Diaz’s important work at the Hip Hop Education Center and at the Universal Hip Hop Museum.

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.

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1 comment

  • susanna pinto

    Posted on August 20, 2016

    I have lived on what was the single most violent block in park slope for several years--the thugs lived next door,shot and clubbed up neighbors who were quietly resisting them--But my youngest black son and all his friends, brought out their cardboard boxes and danced to hip-hop on the sidewalks=gyasi,lamar, jusufu,,--the spike lee bro and sis, were never assaulted, probably because the violent trio slept very late.One of their mamas yelled @ nite @ the incredibly passive police from the 78th precinct, who refused to attend a vehemently vociferous block association meeting which had arranged to meet outside @ nite:now the block is so very quit that when these grown-up hip-hoppers come home to visit---their first comment is"the block is too quiet,mama,what has happened?" The very rich whose children rarely leave their houses,do not come out to dance to any music."I don't have any resentment for the wealthy on my block, just to their need to keep their kids in the house. There is never any sound of kids playing, and since I, because I'm elderly and handicapped, only go out to dr.s' I so miss that sound a great deal. This used to be one of the most integrated hoods, now I really doubt it to be true of most of the formerly integrated hoods. $$$ doesn't come with a lot of black and hispanic folks.

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