Through a range of Hip Hop-focused creative programs and public education initiatives we seek to undo the silencing and erasure of our vast contributions.
Our aim is to raise $100k+ (starting with the first milestone of $50k) to develop theKEEPER Digital Archive, the FIRST and most comprehensive digital resource dedicated to five decades of womxn and girls' artistry within Hip Hop music and culture.
Support for theKEEPERS:
With the support of public scholars like Tricia Rose, Cornel West, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., LaTosha Brown, Ingrid Monson, and Mark Naison, theKEEPER Digital Archive will present the history and future of Hip Hop through the eyes and ears of womxn and girls (click here for more information on the team and advisory board).
About theKEEPER Digital Archive:
theKEEPER Digital Archive is a free, public, online resource that will document and exhibit the global contributions of womxn and girls to Hip Hop music and culture.
Digital Archive Features:
Our team seeks to combat the systematic erasure of womxn and girls from Hip Hop's rich history and culture through data activism (the collection, organization, and presentation of data to combat social inequality) and public education (through resource guides, syllabi, and other educational tools). We know that this project will serve as a meaningful step toward painting a more diverse and complete picture of Hip Hop history by providing users with the following features:
- A unique user interface with a geo-spatially mapped artist timeline
- A chronologically-organized master list of recorded works
- Search functionality that enables querying by record label + writing and production info
- Comprehensive data lists on charting, sales, certificates, and awards searchable by artist, year, label, and location
- A vast media repository
- Extensive primary source materials such as digitized audio/video content
- Oral accounts & transcriptions
- Lyrical content and celebrity annotations
- Original content such as podcasts, essays & reviews
- Curated resource guides & syllabi from Hip Hop scholars and practitioners;
- And much more!
The Best in Geospatial Mapping Design:
Geospatial mapping is a method of managing and analyzing data that organizes layers of information into visualizations using maps and 3D scenes.*
We believe that making a geospatial-mapping feature central to theKEEPER Digital Archive will serve the important function of allowing users to recognize the contributions of womxn and girls in Hip Hop in a more holistic way.
We will be working with Harvard University's Geospatial Technology Manager, Ben Lewis, to develop the geospatial interface of theKEEPER Digital Archive.
*For an example of a geo-spatially-designed community archive, please visit the Community Futurisms project by Black Quantum Futurism, a Black women-led Afrofuturist collective that we deeply admire.
We Need Your Help
With your financial support we can complete PHASE 1 of theKEEPER’s development, building the end-to-end user experience for the archive within one year of the campaign's end.
Your contributions will help us to cover the following expenses:
- The cost of building out the custom backend infrastructure and the frontend design of the archive’s unique interface (as well as any custom applications)
- Archival research costs (storage, digital scanning, recording equipment, shipping costs)
- Funds for support staff (researchers, curators, designers)
- Advertising on social media to raise funds for the archive
- Legal assistance (managing copyrighted material, non-profit development, etc.)
The Problem: Why We Need theKEEPER Digital Archive
Hip Hop accounted for 24.7% of all music consumption in the United States, surpassing all other genres, according to BuzzAngle’s 2018 annual report. Hip Hop is the most listened to music in the world, as confirmed by digital streaming service Spotify in 2018.
Despite the global dominance of Hip Hop music and culture, these numbers have not translated to widespread success nor recognition for most womxn and girls who work or have worked in Hip Hop. Sexism, misogyny, and racism have always intersected to devalue and silence womxn's contributions in the public sphere; within Hip Hop, womxn and girls are frequently objectified and rarely considered to be serious producers of thought and culture.
These gender disparities have persisted throughout Hip Hop's history, and in some regards have become more widespread since the 1980s and 1990s:
- Of the 1,067 number-one singles recognized by the Billboard charts since its establishment in 1958, only two had been obtained by women rap artists as of 2018: Lauryn Hill’s 1998 classic “Doo Wop (That Thing)” and Cardi B’s “Bodak Yellow” in 2017;
- As of August 2020 only seven women rap artists have achieved a number one single on the Billboard charts, and of those, only three have done so without featured artists.
What these statistics reveal is that sexism and misogyny are structural issues within the music industry, and their pervasiveness continues to inhibit womxn artists from creating and advancing widely in Hip Hop.
Beyond the music, rampant misogyny has become the norm within mainstream Hip Hop culture, with a particularly aggressive strain directed toward Black womxn and girls. Between the rise of the #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter movements over the past few years, countless Black womxn have been left reflecting on the intimidation, silence, and judgment that we have experienced from men and other "allies" whenever speaking on our success, dreams, and traumas. It's time for Hip Hop to reckon with the womxn and girls who have been neglected over the past 50 years.
The Solution: TheKEEPER Digital Archive
theKEEPER Digital Archive responds to this neglect—Now more than ever, the world is coming to understand what many Black womxn have always known; Black womxn’s voices matter and our work must be protected and amplified. For those of us within the multi-generational community shaped by Hip Hop music and culture, theKEEPER Digital Archive can offer us valuable insights into Black womxns' experiences and the ways in which these experiences have shaped our art and the world.
Beyond addressing the need for more spaces that prioritize the work of Black womxn and girls, a resource that centers womxn in Hip Hop allows for a greater understanding of Hip Hop artistry more generally. Through transcribed interviews and detailed life histories of womxn across Hip Hop's 50-year history, the archive will provide access to the interiority of countless womxn and girls who have worked within and beyond the purview of mainstream Hip Hop culture, providing visitors the opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of the complex structural forces that shape all artists and their works.
In short, theKEEPER Digital Archive is important because it will:
- Address the erasure of Black womxn’s contributions to Hip Hop, particularly dark-skinned Black womxn, by offering unprecedented access to the recorded works of Black women throughout the entirety of Hip Hop’s history;
- Facilitate critical engagement with Hip Hop history by drawing on the data collected for the archive to construct resource guides, and other educational materials.
theKEEPER offers new ways of understanding the womxn in Hip Hop that we know and love while uncovering the work of the womxn and girls who have also labored and innovated within this culture without ever receiving their props.
- Enongo Lumumba-Kasongo
- Word Wa(a)r
- akua naru
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Fundraising team: theKEEPERS Collective (2)
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