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10 Years of Hiphop Archive!

by Professor Marcyliena Morgan

(I will not apologize) I will not apologize

(I will not apologize) I will not apologize

This is for all of my peoples who understand and truly recognize

Some won't get it - for that I won't apologize

(The Roots' 2008 Rising Down "I Will Not Apologize.")


As we reach the end of another school year we want to congratulate our newest graduates and Hiphop Scholars: Julienne Coleman, Keara Cormier-Hill, and Mark Ragheb. We are so grateful to our undergraduate researchers who've helped us make the Archive what it is today.

The Hiphop Archive at Harvard University began in 2002.  We had three West Coast years at Stanford University 2005 - 2007 and have been back at Harvard ever since 2008.  Our first release and mixed tape was inspired by The Roots' 2008 Rising Down album's release "I Will Not Apologize." We will be doing a 10-year review soon, but for now I want to congratulate everyone who has continued to "Build, Represent, Recognize!"  It makes me think of a line from Nas "If I ruled the world (Imagine that)." In the mean time, I will answer some of the questions we've gotten over the years.


Why is The Hiphop Archive at Harvard University?

I'm a professor here and this is where I work.  I won't go anywhere that won't accept the Hiphop Archive so there are a whole bunch of places that I won't be. (You know who you are.) So to paraphrase Little Brother, "I'm doing me."

Why is The Hiphop Archive at Harvard University? (Again)

I think Harvard and Hiphop have a lot in common.  (By the way, just where do you think it belongs anyway?)  Harvard sees itself as one of the top universities in the world.  OK, we think we're the best and that's the point.  I think the best of Hiphop understands that saying you're the best means you intend to keep working and get stronger and bigger and more Hiphop!  It means that you will constantly get tested and have to stand up to many doubters, haters, wannabes, could have beens, should have beens, etc.  It also means that you are motivated to stay at the top of your game and to reach out and build, respect and represent.


What Materials are at the Hiphop Archive?

The Hiphop Archive collection is an interactive compilation of material culture associated with Hiphop in the U.S. and throughout the world. It consists of major papers, works, references, productions and materials of artists who have made a significant contribution to the development of Hiphop.  It also includes recordings, videos, other media, WEB sites, films, conferences, meetings, interviews, publications, research, formal proceedings, and so on. While it is a record of Hiphop activity locally, nationally and internationally, it is also interdisciplinary in nature.  It incorporates students, arts and community organizations, academic institutions and groups that support, incorporate and rely on Hiphop to construct and communicate their message. 


Why is it called the Hiphop Archive?

When I was thinking of a name I realized that Hiphop needed a place where it's creativity is recognized, talked about, and protected the way that anything valued in our society is protected and shared.  We needed a place that says Hiphop knowledge and scholarship is respected here.  I have visited many archives where materials are considered precious.  The materials we have are precious, but they are also available for review for anyone who is interested in Hiphop.  We expect visitors to the Archive to respect the materials and the work that people have produced.  Respect is shown when people work at their highest possible level when they come into the Hiphop Archive. Respect is shown when share information. It is shown when people help develop more information and share their comments and ideas. Respect is shown when people care about the world.  "And for that I Won't Apologize!"

Circle - Right Column Content

Professor Marcyliena Morgan, Hiphop Archive Director 


I grew up in a working class black community where everyone's mother, father, aunt and uncle read books (or wanted to read), talked to each other about what was happening in the world and cared about their community. I'm not talking about an ideal neighborhood - far from it. Most of the those adults worked hard for little or no pay, struggled to support their families, were poorly educated and dealt with the meanest forms of racism everyday. It affected them. As hard as it was, they weren't weak, but strong. And no matter what was happening to them, the thing that my community never forgave was 'not knowing.'

There was a time when if you acted like you wanted to know something and that you should know things important to you, racists and self-haters would get angry, try to hurt you and say "You think you're too good." They might take away your job, hurt you and your family and destroy your reason for living. Everyone took great pride in making sure they knew about things. You couldn't touch my neighborhood when they could finally, openly reveal how much they knew. No one could make  you not  read, not think, not question, not discuss, and not speak up. There were still consequences when you were informed, but we knew that at the very least, the one thing we could do was to know what in the hell was going on. Fighting to know and control your life was the beginning of everything. I want that community back. I think Hiphop is that community.

Marcyliena Morgan
Founding Director, Hiphop Archive and Research Institute

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