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‘Black History and Culture Collection’ Honors 50 years of Hip Hop

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The Black History & Culture Collection is a not-for-profit initiative created to provide access to historical and cultural images of the African/Black Diaspora in the U.S. and U.K., gathered from content owned by Getty Images.

Photo Courtesy: Tyree Boyd-Pates.

Ahead of tonight’s BET Awards, the Black Wall Street Times spoke with Cassandra Illidge, Vice President of Content & Brand Partnerships at Getty Images and Tyree Boyd-Patesa historian, author, and museum curator. 

Photo Courtesy: Cassandra Illidge

During the 50th anniversary of hip hop, Illidge says, “The Black History Culture Collection came from the outcries from everybody else to change things within the company, externally as well.”

“We want to make sure there is also access to content,” affirms Illidge.

Hip Hop, since its inception, has been a dynamic force in shaping trends and sparking conversations, solidifying its status as a cultural phenomenon that constantly evolves alongside society.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK–JUNE 10: Jay-Z appears in a portrait taken at the Roc-A-Fella Records offices on June, 10, 1996 in New York City. (Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images/Michael Ochs Archives)

Getty Images Black History and Culture Collection curators are reflecting on its profound impact on culture, fashion, and style. Feeling nostalgic, Illidge commented, “I grew up in Brooklyn.”

“I remember Afrika Bambaataa, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, RUN-DMC. Basketball courts with boom boxes and people out dancing and everything else. That’s hip hop.”

NEW YORK, NEW YORK–DECEMBER 04: Rapper Ice Cube appears at a press conference to introduce rapper Yo-Yo (Yolanda Whitaker) on December 4, 1990 in New York City. (Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images/Michael Ochs Archives).

Illidge continued, “Hip hop is about freedom of speech.”

“It’s a self-expressive diary of what’s going on in our communities,” she concluded.

Black History and Culture Collection
Andre 3000 and Big Boi at the The Tabernacle in Atlanta, Georgia (Photo by Rick Diamond/WireImage)

Boyd-Pates agreed, adding, “One of the modalities of how I learned about Black history beyond books was through hip hop,” remembers the historian.

He continued, “Hip hop’s five elements — graffiti, breakdancing, DJ’ing, emceeing, and then the fifth is knowledge of self.” He explains, “The power of photography is pictorially how Black people gain knowledge of themselves from yesteryear.”

Black History and Culture Collection spans five dope decades

In tandem, the Getty Images Black History and Culture Collection commemorates its one-year anniversary with a specially curated collection that pays homage to the rich history of hip hop spanning five decades.

Black History and Culture Collection
NAPA, CALIFORNIA – JULY 29: Rapsody performs on the Black Radio stage during the Blue Note Jazz Festival at Silverado Resort and Spa on July 29, 2023 in Napa, California. (Photo by Richard Bord/Getty Images)

“Nonprofit organizations and educators come to us all the time looking for content.” She continued, “And what better way can we solve the problem but to create a collection specifically for that.”

Boyd-Pates affirmed, “The goal of what we’re doing is for our community to be the archivists of their stories because we know systematically we’ve been locked out of having our story on record.”

“The pride in representation during the golden age of hip hop taught me Blackness.”

He reflected, “It taught me to be proud of red, black and green. I saw my uncle in the 90s who lived with my family go to school listening to Tribe Called Quest. It did something to me viscerally.”

Black History and Culture Collection
Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest performs on stage, London, United Kingdom, 1990. (Photo by Martyn Goodacre/Getty Images)

“I didn’t always understand what they were talking about but I knew they wanted me to be a better version of me,” said Boyd-Pates.

Hip hop’s best-anything depends on whom you ask, however, Illidge says her top 5 is not up for discussion.

Cassandra’s Top 5: Queen Latifah, Jay-Z, Dr. Dre, Salt-N-Pepa, Notorious B.I.G.

Remarking on Queen Latifah, Illidge says, “she is a woman who rejected misogyny and responded in a powerful way.”

Black History and Culture Collection
UNSPECIFIED – JANUARY 01: STUDIO Photo of QUEEN LATIFAH (Photo by Janette Beckman/Redferns)

Illidge explained, “she was able to transition her career into acting and everything else, it’s so powerful.”

Tyree’s Top 5: Jay-Z, Black Thought, MF DOOM, Ms. Lauryn Hill, 2pac

A good kid born in a M.A.A.D. City, LA’s own Boyd-Pates noted, “Kendrick is Kendrick. And he’s always on my list even if I don’t name him.”

Black History and Culture Collection
Kendrick Lamar at Life Is Beautiful 2023 on September 23, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Billboard via Getty Images)

Commenting on the collection, Illidge added, “I want them to feel like they went home. A feeling so connected that it brings a positive light to them and inspiration.”

Find out more about the Black History and Culture Collection at Getty Images.

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