New Bronx museum may sanitize hip-hop history

By now, most heads have heard that a million-dollar museum is being erected in the Bronx in honor of hip-hop. While this is undoubtedly a major milestone for the culture, one has to wonder if the project will do it any justice.

On Wednesday the BBC reported that the museum—which is currently in the planning stages—has already begun to stir up controversy. Apparently the contents are up for debate, with City Council members attempting to distance themselves from “modern-day hip-hop culture, which…has become tarnished by turf wars and lyrics which promote misogyny and violence.” Councilor Larry Seabrook stated that the museum was intended to “memorialize what hip-hop really is.”

Super. Cause the What is Real Hip-Hop? debate hasn’t dragged on long enough already.

The BBC article paraphrases Seabrook’s definition of “real hip-hop”:

…a cultural movement initiated by inner-city youth in the Bronx in the 1970s.

It arrived during a financial crisis, when funding for music classes in schools had been pulled. With widespread poverty and violence on the Bronx’s streets, hip-hop provided an important outlet.

So hip-hip is supposed to be an outlet for inner-city youth coming up in the midst of widespread poverty and violence—and yet it shouldn’t touch on any of the harsh realities of those conditions? Am I missing something here?

Further, if Council decides to exclude gangsta rap, who determines what’s “gangsta” and what’s “real hip-hop”? Will City Council get all caught up in dissecting lyrics, or will they bring in a panel of so-called hip-hop experts to do the categorizing? Will the museum ban all gangsta rappers, or just ones that have shot, or been shot, or gone to jail?

What about beef? Will diss tracks get an artist disqualified? Will studio gangstas get the pass along with dudes that actually have a heavy rep in the streets? Will they assign a team of investigative journalists to figure out who is real and who is just fronting?

Sounds like a bit of a gong show to me.


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  • 2chéLupe

    real talk

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  • DJ Lucky Luke

    Damn… I feel like lyrically offing every last rapper who’s shitted on the real hip-hop…but then I might be excluded from the damn museum myself, so call it a Catch-22.

    IMO, the museum should only be about the founders of hip-hop–the graffiti artists, the B-Boys, the DJ, and the real rhyme-spitters. A lot of snappers and shoulder-leaners don’t even know about the Puerto Rican kids that were at the forefront of the hip-hop game, right alongside the blacks. I guess the museum should only celebrate the era up until about 1997… Damn I hate what they did to my music…

  • Boner Jams 03

    tara, if the xxlmag bloggers where the cast of family guy, u would be meg…

  • Jay w

    (Yawn.) Still pretty damn dry. At least you kinda came through with some content this time.

  • Darryl Williams

    That’s beyond stupidity. How can you ignore all of the Hip-Hop that isn’t the early, bad flow, horrendous lyricism of the early days.
    Hip-Hop has grown into an excepted music genre, why would you ignore that? Not to mention, lyricism has grown into a skill of it’s own, far surpassing the barely listenable 70′s MC.
    If there gonna make a Hip-Hop Museum, it should go from KRS-One to Talib Kweli, DJ Kool Herc to DJ Premier, Vanilla Ice to Nelly. Everything should be included.

  • lost one

    If Tara is Meg, Bol is Stewie and DJ Drama Chris.

  • G Off

    They wouldn’t build a museum about history and forget to include the wars. This is revisionalist bullshit if it goes down.

  • Cptn. Obvious

    Instead of asking what should go in the “hip hop museum”. Shouldn’t the real question be why the hell do we even need a hip hop museum? Hip hop stopped being relevant as a cultural phenomenon back in the mid 90′s. Do we really need an entire museum dedicated to something that was only of any value for 20 years or so? Whats next? A boyband museum?

  • Rey

    They shouldn’t editorialize, or criticize. (i’m dreaming, i know).. They should just break it down chronologically, and then have further categories based on what the rappers’ content should be, and include the grey area rappers. (that’s not a CA reference, by grey area I mean MCs that delve into different topics, the “bling” and the books, na mean?)

  • big rizz

    Who are we to say what real hip hop is? Everyone will have a different opinion on that. I for one think all aspects should be allowed in. Even snap music. It is stil music and some of it is meant to have a good time and take the listener away from the bullshit that is in our lives…..Whatever happened to freedom of speach and expression?

  • Lindemann

    Bol will be donating $4.67 and a Twinkie towards the construction of the H.L. Mencken wing.

    Museums exist to sanitize history, BTW. Apparently the powers that be have decided that it would be useful to co-opt and devitalize the narratives that drove hip-hop, so that’s what’ll happen. I don’t know exactly how this will be accomplished, but I’m sure it will. Hopefully they’ll at least manage to pick up some cool gear to showcase.

  • DJ Main Event

    hmmmm… its a good idea in theory but its a perspective thing as to what ‘real hip-hop’ is. kinda like asking what you think God really looks like. not that THIS is a big ‘god’-like issue but you get what i mean.

  • Logic1

    # Cptn. Obvious Says:
    August 4th, 2006 at 3:54 pm

    Instead of asking what should go in the “hip hop museum”. Shouldn’t the real question be why the hell do we even need a hip hop museum? Hip hop stopped being relevant as a cultural phenomenon back in the mid 90’s. Do we really need an entire museum dedicated to something that was only of any value for 20 years or so? Whats next? A boyband museum?

    Am I the only one who thinks that was an insanely ignorant comment?

    And for those who keep bitching that post-mid-nineties Hip Hop is irrelevant, what about Common, Lupe Fiasco, Jay Dilla (RIP), Eminem to name just a few…??

  • thoreauly77

    the “hip-hop” museum is made for people that like to watch VH1 do one-hour specials that attempt to explain an entire cultural movement — in other words, people who are not into the culture at all. i think it’s pointless for us to discuss the relevance of the museum except to say that the tourist money it brings into the bronx is going to help the community. aside from that, who really cares about some stagnant white-washed version of the culture we embrace every day?

  • thoreauly77

    and thank you tara for writing something other than gossip — i can get that from mr. crawford.

  • Casey

    lmfao u said erected!

  • UnFaded Disciple

    WHY does everything stereotypically have to come down on “Hip Hop”? I mean don’t they get tired of that bullshit?

    Really a museum is pointless, and if they trippin’ b4 the thing is even built you might as well forget it.

  • god

    listen you lesbian, stop trying to speculate. ever heard of the 4 elements? the museum will focus on graffiti, dj’in, breakdancin’, and emceein’. stop complaining and making things complicated. all i know is that you or some “blogger” better not have a say in it. the only skills all of you have is how to spell, sometimes.

  • gioforeal

    Wow he called you a lesbian.I think the museum,as such, should really concentrate on Hip hop from it’s inception to 1988.A seperate wing can be dedicated to further developments of HipHop after that time.Have the pioneers head the comittee on such matters.Peace my ninjitsu.

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