From Grandmaster Flash to Drake: Evolution of hip-hop explored in new Smithsonian box set

The history of hip-hop will be explored in the “Smithsonian Anthology of Hip-Hop and Rap,” a major box set tracing the evolution of the genre from Fatback and Whodini to Nicki Minaj and Drake.

The nine-CD collection will be released Aug. 20 as part of the Smithsonian African American Legacy Series. The project, which took seven years to produce, is a collaboration between Smithsonian Folkways Recordings and the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Among the nine CDs are 129 tracks that represent the evolution of hip-hop from its late-‘70s origins in the Bronx, New York (Run-DMC, Grandmaster Flash), to the West Coast proliferation in the mid-‘90s (Dr. Dre, Tupac Shakur) to the late-‘90s and early-‘00s migration to the South (OutKast, Ludacris).

Grandmaster Flash at the Chrysler Building in New York on Aug. 27, 1991.

Grandmaster Flash at the Chrysler Building in New York on Aug. 27, 1991.COLLECTION OF THE SMITHSONIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY AND CULTURE, PHOTO BY AL PEREIRA

The final disc chronicles 2004-2013, with J. ColeKanye West and Lil Wayne providing some of the representation.null

“We wanted the ‘Smithsonian Anthology of Hip-Hop and Rap’ to be reflective of the culture, of the music, of the people, of everything that is part of hip-hop,” Dwandalyn R. Reece, NMAAHC’s associate director for curatorial affairs, curator of music and performing arts and producer of the anthology, said in a statement.

Familiar music names including Chuck D, MC Lyte and Questlove were among the executive committee that assembled the anthology, as well as former Def Jam Recordings executives, music educators and writers.

Public Enemy in 1988. From left: S1W, Professor Griff, Terminator X, and Chuck D.COLLECTION OF THE SMITHSONIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY AND CULTURE, GIFT OF THE JACK MITCHELL ARCHIVES, © JACK MITCHELL, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Along with the music, the package includes a 300-page coffee table book that features 11 essays from music scholars, authors and journalists.

The release of the anthology comes a month before the fifth anniversary of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

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