The beat goes on: hip-hop makes it to the Smithsonian

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The Independent US

For nearly three decades, hip-hop relics such as vinyl records, turntables, microphones and boom boxes have collected dust in boxes and attics.

However, the owners of such items, including pioneering hip-hop artists such as Afrika Bambaataa, DJ Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash and Fab 5 Freddy, blew that dust off and carried them to a Manhattan hotel to turn them over to National Museum of American History officials.

The museum, part of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC, is announcing its plans to embark on a collecting initiative, "Hip-Hop Won't Stop: the Beat, the Rhymes, the Life". The project will gather objects that trace hip-hop's origins in the Bronx in the 1970s to the present day. It is expected to cost as much as $2m and take up to five years to complete.

"Hip-hop was born in New York but it's now a global phenomenon," said Valeska Hilbig, a museum spokeswoman. "It's here to stay, and it's part of American culture. just like jazz is part of American history. It's part of the narrative we tell at the museum."

The idea for an exhibition grew out of conversations between Brent D Glass, the national museum's director, and his friend Mark Shimmel, of Mark Shimmel Music, a museum curator, Marvette Perez, said.

The hip-hop impresario Russell Simmons called the idea a "great statement for hip-hop".

Mr Simmons, the co-founder of the Def Jam record label, said: "It's not a signal to the end of hip-hop. We know it will be a lasting fixture. And it should be. All over the world hip-hop is expression of young people's struggles, their frustrations and opinions."

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