Afrika Bambaataa concluded his inaugural three year term as the visiting scholar at Cornell's Hip Hop Collection by donating his personal library of 450 containers of 20,000 hand-annotated vinyl records, as well as other archival materials.
The National Endowment for the Humanities has given Cornell a $260,000 grant to catalog the archive and put scans of Bambaataa's record-sleeve annotations online.
"This unique, hand-inscribed documentation by one of hip-hop's founding DJs will enable students and scholars to reconstruct hip-hop's invention through its most celebrated and influential collection of records," said Katherine Reagan, rare book and manuscript curator. "In preserving Bambaataa's archive and making it open and accessible, Cornell University Library will support a growing body of international scholars and educators who study hip-hop not only for its global influence on popular music, art and style, but its role in articulating social and political issues."
A grassroots movement created in the South Bronx by a community devastated by violence and neglect, hip-hop has grown over the past 40 years into a multibillion-dollar industry and global cultural phenomenon. Organizing, preserving and making Bambaataa's material available online will help ensure that this record of hip-hop's foundations in the black and Latino communities of the South Bronx in the 1970s will be available for scholars today and in future generations.
[Melanie Lefkowitz/Cornell Chronicle]
(Thanks, Gary Price!)