Georgia State University Launches Atlanta Hip-Hop Archives Initiative

Georgia State University Launches Atlanta Hip-Hop Archives Initiative

To celebrate and preserve the cultural legacy of hip-hop in Atlanta, Georgia State University has unveiled the "Atlanta Hip Hop Archives."

In a bold move to celebrate and preserve the cultural legacy of hip-hop in Atlanta, Georgia State University unveiled its latest initiative on Nov. 9: the Atlanta Hip Hop Archives. Its mission is to collect, preserve, and provide access to materials, historical records, and stories related to the growth and development of hip-hop in Atlanta.

The project, spearheaded by GSU’s Special Collections, aims to create a comprehensive archive that reflects Atlanta’s musical and cultural essence and the broader Southeast. By focusing on Southern hip-hop and its subgenres, including trap, rap, gangsta rap, and crunk, the collection seeks to encapsulate the diversity and evolution of this influential musical genre, its website relays.

The period covered by the archives spans from 1980 to the present, capturing the journey of hip-hop in Atlanta over the decades. It focuses on the Atlanta metro area and the state of Georgia, emphasizing hip-hop’s local roots and impact in the region.

GSU is reaching out to the community, encouraging individuals, hip-hop artists, and enthusiasts to contribute. Donations of materials related to Atlanta hip-hop, including those from artists, producers, DJs, fans, venues, events, recording studios, and the community, are welcomed.

The university’s website reports that to facilitate donations, GSU has appointed a music and popular culture archivist and an advisory committee which can be contacted to discuss contributing historical materials. The university emphasizes the importance of such contributions, highlighting that they play a pivotal role in preserving the legacies of individuals and places significant to the growth and development of Atlanta hip-hop.

Lakeyta Bonnette-Bailey, associate professor of Africana Studies at GSU and a member of the advisory committee, stated, “I love hip-hop, and as a professor studying hip-hop in a school that is located in what is now called the ‘Hip-Hop Mecca,’ it was important to be a part of this very important endeavor preserving Atlanta hip-hop. As hip-hop celebrates its 50th anniversary, it is important to maintain, reflect, and preserve the history of this influential and global genre. This is especially important because of the historical exclusion of Black history and cultural artifacts.”

The project also underscores the personal histories preserved for community memory. By donating materials, individuals contribute to the heritage of a particular place and time, ensuring that unique histories become part of the community’s collective memory.

GSU’s Special Collections already boasts significant collections, such as the Johnny Mercer papers, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra archives, the Alex Cooley collection, and the Wayne Daniel collection. The Atlanta Hip Hop Archives initiative expands these horizons, aiming to partner with individuals and organizations that have documented the rich history of Southern hip-hop.

Professor Bailey also chimed in on the program’s future, “I hope through this archive we can tell the full story of the history and continuance of hip-hop in Atlanta. I also hope that Atlanta hip-hop artists, industry leaders, and participants will consider donating artifacts to the archives to assist in telling this story. Finally, I hope that once Atlanta’s full hip-hop story (including all elements, DJing, breakdancing, emceeing, production, graffiti, and knowledge attainment) is well documented, we can expand the archives to a hip-hop south archives.”