Greetings from Ithaca, New York. Last year the Cornell University’s Hip Hop Collection and the university’s breaking club Absolute Zero started a new program called the Visiting Artist program. They brought b-boy Toyz from Lions of Zion to the collection and worked together to develop a scholarship program in which they get people from outside the city to come and study the collection and work with the club at the same time.
The mission was to get the local scene more inspired and at the same time give a great experience to the artists themselves to get inspired by studying the collection. 2018 the program was launched and started with myself and b-girl AT.
So what is the Cornell Hip Hop Collection?
When the famous book, Born in the Bronx, was released, the author, a Swede called Johan Kugelberg, was left with a massive collection he had done to make the book possible. 2007 he decided to donate to collection to one of the biggest universities in the States, Cornell University. And so Cornell Hip Hop Collection was born.
Joe Conzo’s original photos
Ever since that the collection has expanded to 16 other archives as well such as the Crazy Legs’ archive, Afrika Bambaataa’s archive, Grandmaster Caz’ archive and so on. It has roughly 500 000 original artefacts dealing with the early days and development of hip hop culture stored for it’s cultural value for the future generations.
The collection is open and free for public to research. It’s stored in the vault but by request one gets an access to the boxes. And there are a lot of them.
Afrika Bambaataa’s records from his collection. He would number his records for the first parts of his career before it was too much. Gives you an idea what he would play in the early parties.
Breakbeat Lenny’s flyer collection with timeless designs by Phase II, Buddy Esquire and Eddie Ed.
For the last week me and AT have spent 6 hours in a day researching the collection. We’ve done a lot of personal breakthroughs and findings and also have connected the dots of history in many new ways.. We will open these up in our free weekly newsletter during the next months so pay close attention (join it HERE if you haven’t already).
The Kool Herc files in Billy Adler collection.
We have a few more days to go at the collection! This is your chance to influence our research. If you were in our shoes, what would be your research question? What would be something that you would need an answer to from the biggest hip hop collection in the planet? Let us know by commenting below.
-Focus / bboydojo.com
Ps. a lot of the collection is digitalized and can be accessed online such as Joe Conzo’s photos and Buddy Esquire’s collection of early flyers. Check it out and get inspired at: http://rmc.library.cornell.edu/hiphop/. For any questions you have on the collection or the program you can direct to Guru Khalsa at firstname.lastname@example.org.