Cornell U Acquires Hip-Hop Collection; Bambaataa Hosts Roundtable

Cornell University’s Ithaca, New York campus is set to host two days of performances and discussions with some of Hip-Hop’s pioneers next week, to mark the school’s historical acquisition of a collection of documents from Hip-Hop’s early days. The collection, titled “Born in the Bronx: The Legacy and Evolution of Hip Hop,” was recently presented to the school library’s Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections as a gift from author and collector Johan Kugelberg.

It consists of almost one thousand sound recordings, textile art, books and magazines, as well as the archives of Bronx photographer Joe Conzo, Jr. and more than five hundred original flyers designed by pioneering flyer designers like Buddy Esquire and others.

The “Born in the Bronx” collection will serve as the foundation for Cornell’s growing Hip-Hop collection.

The two-day conference and celebration will kick off Friday afternoon (October 31) with a roundtable discussion led by pioneering DJ and artist Afrika Bambaataa.

Bambaataa will be joined by other pioneers, including Grandmaster Caz, Grandwizzard Theodore, Popmaster Fable, Tony Tone, Disco Wiz, and Kool Lady Blue.

Other speakers at the event will include author Jeff Chang and Conzo, who, along with Bambaataa, contributed to Kugelberg’s 2007 book Born in the Bronx: a Visual Record of the Early Days of Hip-Hop.

“By paying tribute to those who laid the foundation, we tell our own history,” said Bambaataa of the event. “Preserving Hip-Hop’s early years will help future generations understand the places they come from.”

The discussions will be held from 3 - 6:30 pm at Bailey Hall, with performances by a select group of artists starting at 8:30 pm on Friday evening.

Additional performances will be held on Saturday (November 1) from 9:15 am to 3:30 pm. All events are free and open to the public.

“We want the community at large to celebrate Hip-Hop’s contributions to American culture through a better understanding of its origins, which are the focus of this unique collection,” added Katherine Reagan, curator of Rare Books & Manuscripts at Cornell University Library.

The Cornell celebration comes just in time to usher in Hip-Hop History Month, which is recognized by the Universal Zulu Nation as the entire month of November.

It is so designated in recognition of the official birthday of the Universal Zulu Nation, founded by Afrika Bambaataa on November 12, 1973.

November 12, 1974 is also recognized as the official birthday of Hip-Hop.