The Smithsonian Will Tell The History Of Hip-Hop In A 120-Song Anthology Led By Chuck D & MC Lyte

“#Make Hip-Hop History” is the slogan for the campaign launched today by The Smithsonian Museum, with the help of Chuck D and MC Lyte, to fund a nine-CD, 300-page anthology devoted to exploring the history of Hip-Hop and Rap music.

This would be the third such Smithsonian Folkways anthology focused on an American musical genre, following The Anthology of American Folk Music (1952) and Jazz: The Smithsonian Anthology (2011).

The anthology will be made up of 120-plus tracks, 10 essays and photographs never-before seen from the Museum collection. Creating something like this “takes a lot of debates, yelling, throwing chairs, stuff like that,” Chuck D joked in the accompanying video for the campaign that aims to raise $250,000 by November 16.

All contributions will be recognized, with donors eligible for rewards such as a pair of limited-edition Adidas sneakers hand-painted by Cey Adams, artist/former Def Jam creative director, an exclusive 9th Wonder remix and a “once in a life-time” tour of the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) hosted by Questlove from The Roots.


“Hip-Hop is a musical revolution that embodies the voice of an entire generation,” said Lonnie G. Bunch III, founding director of the NMAAHC, when announcing the project.

“That’s why it’s important for the museum to partner with the Hip-Hop community and Folkways Recordings to tell this story,” he continued. “Hip-Hop helps us to understand the power of Black music and the impact of African-American culture on the world.”

Alongside Chuck D and MC Lyte, industry veterans Bill Stephney and Bill Adler from Def Jam have helped shape the project, in addition to noted Hip-Hop scholars, Cheryl L. Keyes from UCLA’s Ethnomusicology Department and Duke University’s Professor of Black Popular Culture, Mark Anthony Neal.

Don’t sleep on this, though, this is an “all or nothing” campaign, meaning that if the target isn’t reached this dream project will fade into history.

Click here to contribute to the Kickstarter fund.