Hip-Hop History is On Display in a New Virtual Exhibit

Saginaw’s Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum’s exhibition will feature more than 150 objects from the Black History 101 Mobile Museum
This The Last Poets album is among the objects on display in “Hip Hop Icons.” // Photograph courtesy of The Black History 101 Mobile Museum

On Feb. 1, Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum will debut its latest virtual exhibit: Hip Hop Icons. A part of the Saginaw museum’s Black History Month offerings, the digital show will feature more than 150 historical objects tied to hip-hop pioneers, emcees, groups, women, movies, and Detroit.

Hip Hop Icons’ visitors will be able to access a 360-degree tour of the exhibition, music, videos, and highlights of objects. Artifacts include records, action figures, and movie posters from films that impacted hip-hop culture, such as Wild Style, Beat Street, 8 Mile, and Dave Chappelle’s Block Party.

The objects are on loan from the Black History 101 Mobile Museum, which was founded by Hip Hop Icons curator Dr. Khalid el-Hakim 26 years ago. The award-winning museum consists of more than 10,000 items from el-Hakim’s personal collection of Black memorabilia that ranges from the trans-Atlantic slave trade era to hip-hop culture. “Having hip-hop exhibited in a major Michigan museum is a milestone for the culture,” says el-Hakim, who worked as a promoter, booking agent, and manager in Detroit’s hip-hop scene in the late ’90 and mid-2000s. Notably, he worked with Proof of Detroit hip-hop group D12 as co-label owner of Iron Fist Records.

Public Enemy action figures // Photograph courtesy of The Black History 101 Mobile Museum

“One of the challenges for institutions is ensuring programs and exhibits represent diverse perspectives and ideas, especially of marginalized communities,” he says. “The Hip Hop Icons exhibit meets that challenge head on with one of the most dynamic pop-culture phenomena over the past 40 years. This exhibit celebrates the hip-hop fan in every one of us.”

To coincide with the exhibit, the museum is offering guided virtual tours of Hip Hop Icons. Additionally, the museum and the Saginaw African Cultural Festival are hosting a free digital film speaker series related to the exhibit in February.

On Feb. 4, check out a discussion on Beat Street with MC Sha Rock, who is known as the first female rapper. On Feb. 11, Michigan hip-hop artists Supa Emcee and Miz Korona will talk 8 Mile. Then on Feb. 19, el-Hakim will interview Public Enemy rapper Professor Griff and discuss Do the Right Thing. Finally, on Feb. 25, check out a discussion on the documentary Breed & Bootleg: Legends of Flint Rap Music with the film’s director, Geri Alumit Zeldes, and Natasha Breed, wife of the late Michigan rapper MC Breed.

For more information, visit marshallfredericks.org.