March 28, 2013

Exhibitions, events celebrate hip-hop culture

Charlie Ahearn/Cornell Hip Hop Collection
The Funky Four, with MC Sha-Rock, front, in an image from "Wild Style" director Charlie Ahearn's archive in the Hip Hop Collection. The film will be featured and Ahearn and Sha-Rock will visit as part of "Unbound from the Underground" April 4-7.

Cornell Visiting Scholar Afrika Bambaataa, Grandmaster Caz and other hip-hop pioneers will return to Ithaca April 4-7 for the opening of the Cornell Hip Hop Collection's first major exhibition and a communitywide celebration of 40 years of hip-hop culture.

The exhibition "Now Scream!" opens April 4 in Kroch Library from 5 to 7 p.m., continuing April 5 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., with extended gallery hours April 6-7 from 1-5 p.m.

The display of audiovisual material, artwork and artifacts from Cornell University Library's collection, the world's largest archive on the birth and spread of hip-hop, is open to the public 10 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays through Feb. 4, 2014.

"Now Scream!" features sound recordings of early live jams; examples of the first wave of hip-hop on vinyl; original flyer artwork by Buddy Esquire; images by celebrated filmmakers and photographers; research footage from Charlie Ahearn's 1983 documentary "Wild Style"; original work drawings and sketches by Golden Age graffiti writers; and items on loan to the collection -- such as an interactive recording of Public Enemy's "Louder Than a Bomb" and the never-before-seen, earliest known footage of a hip-hop performance, filmed by Timothy C. Brown Sr. in 1977.

Ernie Paniccioli/Cornell Hip Hop Collection
Grandmaster Caz of the Cold Crush Brothers is among the guest artists and performers in "Unbound from the Underground," a community celebration of hip-hop April 4-7.

"The great thing about this exhibition is that there is something for everyone," said Ben Ortiz, assistant curator of the Hip Hop Collection. "Hip-hop heads will love the artifacts that tell the story of the culture they know and love, and the uninitiated will get a good sense of what hip-hop is all about -- its art, its history, its people."

Highlights of Ithaca's community celebration, "Hip Hop: Unbound from the Underground," include mural painting by more than 30 guest graffitists April 5-7 on the Cornell University Press Building, 770 Cascadilla St.; a public panel discussion with Bambaataa, MC Sha-Rock, Rahiem and Brown, April 5, 2-4 p.m. in Willard Straight Theater; a "Soulsonic Space Sounds" jam with Bambaataa, the Cold Crush Brothers and Breakbeat Lou, April 4 at the Haunt; a 30th-anniversary screening of "Wild Style" with a director and artists' panel April 5 at Cinemapolis; and two additional exhibitions: "Decay to DJ: Exploring the Roots of Hip Hop," featuring photographs of the South Bronx by Joe Conzo Jr., through May 25 at the History Center of Tompkins County; and "Top 2 Bottom: A Journey Through the Elements of Hip-Hop Culture," opening April 5 at Tompkins County Public Library.

Native American Students at Cornell (NASAC) coined "Unbound From the Underground" as a conceptual theme when they invited indigenous hip-hop acts Antithesis, The Welfare Poets and Kiwi to campus to speak about the role of their art form in raising awareness about social justice issues, and perform from their cultural perspectives (Native, Afro-Latino and Filipino). On April 6 NASAC, other student affinity groups and the American Indian Program will present a socially conscious hip-hop concert, 8 p.m.-1 a.m. in G10 Biotech; and a discussion on activism and social change with Cree photographer Ernie Paniccioli and the performers, 3-5 p.m. in Appel Commons.

Guests at weekend events also include Rahiem of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five; groundbreaking female rapper MC Sha-Rock of the Funky Four + 1 More; JDL of the Cold Crush Brothers; Crazy Legs and Popmaster Fabel of the Rock Steady Crew and The GZA of the Wu-Tang Clan, among others.

Complete schedule of events: http://UnboundFromTheUnderground.com.

The Hip Hop Collection (http://PreservingHipHop.org), established in 2007, now comprises more than 50,000 items and has been integrated into several Cornell courses.

Gwen Glazer is the staff wroter/editor for Cornell University Library.