Hip Hop Hooray: The HipHop Archive Gets Talking

Crimson file photo

This kid isn’t spinning for fun, he’s digging through the archives.

Although Lil Wayne’s “Lollipop” is certainly a crowd pleaser, it may not capture hip-hop’s original spirit of activism, according to the Harvard’s Hiphop Archive founder and Executive Director, Marcyliena Morgan.

“You get [radio stations saying] ‘let’s play these songs about someone’s butt,’” said Morgan, a professor of African and African American Studies.

To exchange ideas and promote dialogue surrounding issues of global hip-hop, the Hiphop Archive hosted a conference this week entitled “Hiphop Worldwide: More than a Nation,” which brought together hip-hop artists, scholars, DJs, and authors.

Founded in 2002, the mission of the Hiphop Archive is to gather resources for the research of the past and present of hip-hop culture.

“The Archive opens up the doors to the idea that hip-hop is a respectable and important academic field,” said Akshata Kadagathur ’11, an intern at the Archive. “It’s a great resource, especially on a campus where hip-hop doesn’t have a very big venue.”

Courtney E. Rose, a graduate student of Professor Morgan, agreed that hip-hop does not have a strong presence at Harvard, but noted, “I think hip-hop is getting a stronger voice here at Harvard because of people like Marcy Morgan, and this week is part of that.”

Running from March 10-13, the conference featured a lecture by rapper and activist, Chuck D. of Public Enemy, who discussed how loving hip-hop is about knowing the facts behind the music.

The thirst to learn these facts and to share knowledge, according to Morgan, is part of hip-hop’s motivation, which facilitates the exchange of ideas on both a local and global scale.

“Hip-hop is an ideal place to start thinking, making sure we are socially responsible,” said Morgan. “It’s just about the everyday, and the beauty of the everyday, the frustration and hope of the everyday.”