My time working as a Research Assistant at the Hiphop Archive & Research Institute (HARI) this summer has come to an end. A part of Harvard University’s Hutchins Center for African & African American Research, HARI’s website writes, “[HARI] ha[s] been committed to supporting and establishing a new type of research and scholarship devoted to the knowledge, art, culture, materials, organizations, movements and institutions of Hiphop.”
The first year I was tasked to research was 2001, when I was born. Soon, I added 1973, 1982, and 1991 to my list. Us research assistants gathered newspaper and magazine articles, TV broadcasts, movie and album reviews, papers from academic journals, and more resources to enhance the public’s understanding of the cultural context of landmark hiphop albums.
Though it is not available on the website at the moment, us Research Assistants were able to amass an enormous amount of information to add to the contextualization of albums in our archive. We also expanded into multiple different dimensions, not only touching on the album years but also years for music those albums sampled, thus giving people a greater idea of the roots of hip-hop in the 20th century.
Our summer culminated with a trip to Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art, where one of the exhibitions on display was “We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965–85.” The playlist accompanying the exhibition was curated by Professor Marcyliena Morgan, the founding director of HARI and professor of African and African American Studies at Harvard. Knowing we have a personal connection to the exhibition, we pondered the artworks and messages more earnestly.
My work made for an incredibly enriching summer. HARI transformed my understanding of hiphop as an art form and form of entertainment. Equipped with greater knowledge of how hiphop began, its intents, traditions, and communal spirit, I am excited to discuss with people the evolving role of hiphop in American and world culture. Hiphop has enjoyed an especially pivotal decade with scholars beginning to question how it reflects quirks of the millennial generation.
I am excited to tackle remaining goals in the upcoming school year, including hosting various workshops about cultural competency and inclusion at Deerfield using my experience working at HARI. I also hope to communicate what I learned with the CSGC and Office of Inclusion to expand ways to promote inclusion and genuine appreciation of cultures that are not our own. Last but not least, I will foster conversations in our daily lives about the role of music in our individual lives as well as in broader communities.
I would like to thank the CSGC, the Earle and Mendillo families, and HARI for their generous support and belief in my vision this summer.