Fab 5 Freddy: Archiving Hip Hop

Black and white photo of Fab Five Freddy wearing a straw hat, sunglasses, hoodie, jacket and necklace with a pendant of the African continent

Image by Fred Brathwaite

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Fab 5 Freddy: Archiving Hip Hop

Saturday, November 11, 2 pm
Jackman Hall, Art Gallery of Ontario

AGO hosts Fred Brathwaite’s keynote on hip-hop archives to celebrate 50 years of hip-hop knowledge production. The event is in partnership with New York’s Hip-Hop Education Center, Toronto’s Northside Hip-Hop Archive, the University of Toronto’s Afrosonic Innovations Lab and the Program for the Arts of the Jackman Humanities Institute.  

Fred Brathwaite — better known as Fab 5 Freddy — with an introduction by Martha Diaz, discusses how his hip-hop archive was acquired by the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center. The archive spans eras and mediums to include audio, photos, fliers, VHS tapes, vinyl, and defunct merchandise. It, ranges from Yo! MTV Raps tees to rare footage of Basquiat, a New Jack City screenplay draft, and a tape reel recording from the night of Malcolm X’s assassination.  

A New York City native and long-time Harlem resident born in the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn, Fab 5 Freddy’s ongoing and active career as a visual artist and filmmaker has spanned decades. He initially entered the scene in the late seventies as one of the first graffiti artists to exhibit his paintings internationally. Over the years, he wrote, performed, and produced music, and wrote and produced several films, including the cult classic Wild Style, the first film on hip-hop culture. He directed music videos for KRS-ONE, Queen Latifah, Nas, and Snoop Doggy Dog, as well as companies like Pepsi. He was also the original host of YO! MTV Raps, which immediately became the highest-rated show on the channel and brought hip-hop culture to millions of households across the world.  

Martha Diaz (MD) is an award-winning community organizer, media producer, archivist, curator, educator, and founder of the Hip Hop Education Center. MD has traversed the Hip Hop entertainment industry, the public arts and education sector, and the academy over the past 30 years. Her passion is advancing social justice and transforming communities through media, technology, and social entrepreneurship, while also lecturing internationally and facilitating workshops on archiving and curating Hip Hop and using it as a medium for education, cultural exchange, and the advancement of human rights. Through her exhibitions, and publications of research reports, books, and curricula, she has chronicled Hip Hop history to preserve its cultural value and memory. MD founded the highly acclaimed Hip Hop Odyssey (H2O) International Film Festival, the first festival of its kind. MD was invited to curate the first Hip Hop movie series presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and served as a guest curator at the Museum of the Moving Image and The Schomburg Center. 

For requests for Verbal Description, American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation and/or live captioning for online and onsite programming, please provide three weeks notice in advance of the event date. The AGO will make every effort to provide accommodation for requests made with less than three weeks notice. Please note that automated captioning is available for all online programs. For onsite visits, the AGO offers these supports for an accessible visit. Please contact us to make a request for these or other accessibility accommodations. Learn more about accessibility at the AGO.


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