Cornell Chronicle: Paniccioli’s vast hip-hop photo archive launches online. “Missy Elliott and Li’l Kim dressed up as anime characters, resting between takes on the set of the ‘Sock It 2 Me’ music video. Biz Markie bouncing off his chair in a dressing room of the Apollo Theater. Doug E. Fresh blowing out candles on his birthday cake that’s decorated to look like a vinyl record, as Sean ‘Puff Daddy’ Combs peers over his shoulder. These and nearly 20,000 similar images can now be viewed online as Cornell University Library launches the Ernie Paniccioli Photo Archive, a digital collection chronicling hip-hop music and culture from the 1980s to the early 2000s.”
Geeks are Sexy: Thank God For the Motherf*cking Nerds Right Now – A Rap Homage to Coronavirus Fighters. “In these surreal, frightening times, I’ve been realizing more than ever how helplessly reliant and dependent I am, as a non-smart person, on all the incredibly intelligent, hard-working professionals who’ve dedicated their lives to becoming experts in their respective fields. To the doctors, healthcare workers, epidemiologists, immunologists, microbiologists, and all the other ‘ists,’ we would be F&#ked without you.” As you might imagine, lots of swearing.
The Serious Computer Vision Blog: Training a Rap Machine. “In my previous post, I gave a short tutorial on how to use the Google AI platform for small garage projects. In this post, I am going to follow up and talk about how I built (or more like an attempt to build) my holiday project, a machine that completes your rap lyrics using the ‘Transformer’ neural network.” I played with it a little using lyrics from G YAMAZAWA’s “North Cack”. It was… pretty good?
UPROXX: From Chance The Rapper To Nicki Minaj, How Social Media Challenges Replaced Rap Street Teams. “In the early days of hip-hop, rappers used street teams to promote new albums, singles, and tours. Now, they have Instagram. As social media becomes more integrated into all of our daily lives, recording artists have also naturally incorporated it into the business of building and communicating with their fanbases. And, just as rapidly as social media itself innovated the way we debate, discuss, and interpret the world, artists have learned to leverage those online fanbases to useful real-world effect.”
DJ Booth: Solving Rap Journalism’s Long-Standing Research Problem. “Rap journalism has a research problem. Just recently, Up North Trips, a popular Twitter account, attributed the wrong release date to Soundbombing II, Albumism and The Shadow League published 30th-anniversary pieces for Special Ed’s Youngest In Charge over a month past its actual anniversary date, and even the legendary DJ Premier tweeted an erroneous date for the 30th anniversary of Gang Starr’s debut.” An interesting example of a topic where Wikipedia is broadly unhelpful, with several reference resources to use instead. Enjoyed this article a lot.
New York Times: Fab 5 Freddy’s Latest Cultural Coup? ‘The Archive of the Future’. “When he was hopscotching between segregated poles of 1970s and ’80s New York — the uptown of Grandmaster Flash and the Rock Steady Crew; the downtown of Andy Warhol and Blondie — brokering the kind of cultural exchange that would pave the way for hip-hop’s eventual takeover, Fred Brathwaite, better known as Fab 5 Freddy, never kept a consistent diary. Instead, decades before social media, he documented the events of his daily life on film, deploying either a compact point-and-shoot camera or a Hi8 camcorder that he always kept at the ready.”
NPR: Keepers Of The Underground: The Hiphop Archive At Harvard. “Over a decade ago, students of Dr. Marcyliena Morgan, then a Professor of Linguistics at UCLA, started dropping by her office, imploring her to listen to hip-hop. ‘I taught urban speech communities,’ Professor Morgan says. ‘Students said, “We want to do work on hip-hop.” I said, “That’s performance but it’s not a speech community.” They said, “We’ll be back.”‘”
Smithsonian: Smithsonian Launches Kickstarter for Culture-Defining “Anthology of Hip-Hop and Rap”. “The Smithsonian has launched a 30-day Kickstarter campaign today for the Smithsonian Anthology of Hip-Hop and Rap, a powerful cultural statement told through an unequaled combination of music, text and stunning visuals. The compilation, to be produced and released by Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, includes nine CDs, more than 120 tracks and a 300-page book with extensive liner notes, essays by artists and scholars, and never-before-published photographs from the National Museum of African American History and Culture’s collection.”
XXL: Pimp C’s Wife Denies UGK Archives Were Destroyed in Hurricane Harvey. “Chinara Butler reposted Queenie’s Instagram post about Chad’s circumstances, and although the caption wrote about UGK’s archives being destroyed, a rep for Butler tells Fader she was simply trying to post Chad’s address so others could help. The rep denies the entirety of UGK’s catalogue was destroyed and says there is no truth to that statement, being that they’re ‘in secured locations.'”
XXL: Bun B’s Wife Says UGK Archives Are Destroyed Due to Hurricane Harvey. “On Wednesday (Aug. 30), Bun B’s wife Queenie posted a message revealing Pimp C’s son was stuck at his grandmother’s house in six feet of water. In the caption of the photo, Queenie also revealed everything that was left of the UGK archives was now gone. It’s uncertain what was included in the archives. Chinara Butler, Pimp C’s widow, also reposted the photo from Queenie from another account.” UGK was a hip-hop duo from Port Arthur, Texas. Bun B is still around but Pimp C died in 2007.
Google Doodles: 44th Anniversary of the Birth of Hip Hop. “On August 11, 1973, an 18-year-old, Jamaican-American DJ who went by the name of Kool Herc threw a back-to-school jam at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx, New York. During his set, he decided to do something different. Instead of playing the songs in full, he played only their instrumental sections, or ‘breaks’ – sections where he noticed the crowd went wild. During these ‘breaks’ his friend Coke La Rock hyped up the crowd with a microphone. And with that, Hip Hop was born.” I had way too much fun playing with this.
Quartz: A West Virginia teen taught himself how to build a rapping AI using Kanye West lyrics. “The rapping AI was his first project, although he learned Python by building simple programs to do things like play Tic-Tac-Toe. [Robbie] Barrat says he ended up writing most of the original code in an afternoon, and spent the next few days optimizing the results. The most current iteration is trained on 6,000 Kanye West lines and can now generate speech that raps the words written by the AI, complete with semi-appropriate pauses.” Self-taught young man growing up on a farm in West Virginia.
Now available: a digital archive of early Massachusetts hip-hop. “In 1985, a radio show called ‘Lecco’s Lemma’ on WMBR became ground zero for Boston’s burgeoning hip-hop scene. Rap was just starting to break into the mainstream, and kids from the city to the suburbs were catching the bug. Local rappers flooded the MIT radio station with demo tapes in the hopes that the show’s host, Magnus Johnstone, would play them on the air. On Saturday, Nov. 19, some 300 of those tapes, along with a slew of recordings of the show itself, will be made available online — for free — with the launch of the Massachusetts Hip-Hop Archive at the University of Massachusetts Boston.” This is hip-hop and some early gangsta rap. Expect swearing and use of the n-word.
A new Web site is designed to make research and analysis of rap lyrics easier. “Actual Fact is ‘an exhibition of data visualization and critical writing produced with data extracted from rap lyrics.’ It employs the ‘Hiphop Word Count’ database, which creator and Lab founder Tahrir Hemphill describes in a video profile as ‘an online searchable database that analyzes the language in hip-hop and looks at hip-hop as a cultural indicator.’ It contains data from the lyrics of more than 100,000 hip-hop songs dating back to 1979.” I had trouble getting the site to load but I’m on Chromium, which can be wonky sometimes…
More words: Merriam-Webster has announced that the 2015 word of the year is… ism. “But not just any ism. The top isms to earn high traffic spikes and big bumps in lookups on the dictionary company’s website in 2015 over the year before are socialism, fascism, racism, feminism, communism, capitalism and terrorism.” In the immortal words of Monie Love (from Monie in the Middle) – “Step into a brand new rhythm, ism schisms / Nope, I’m not with ’em, I’ve given / My undivided attention, you know what I’m saying?”