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A new exhibition at the Columbia Museum of Art explores South Carolina's hip-hop culture

A Gathering of the TRIBE

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TRIBE: A Celebration of South Carolina Hip-Hop Culture
Through April 12
$5-$10 (Free for museum members)
Columbia Museum of Art
1515 Main St.
Columbia
columbiamuseum.org

In the past, the Columbia Museum of Art has hosted exhibitions dealing with rock, jazz, and classical music, focusing on the evolution of each genre, the artistic touchstones that caused them to grow, and the people who made the biggest impact on the music.

But up until now, the museum had never touched on one of the youngest, and most popular, musical genres in the world: hip-hop.

That has changed with a new project called TRIBE: A Celebration of South Carolina Hip-Hop Culture. TRIBE examines the timeline of hip-hop music in our state, taking in four decades worth of history and mixing hip-hop music with the art that inspired and promoted it, including posters, graffiti art, photographs, videos, clothing, and more.

The exhibition was created by Love, Peace & Hip Hop, an organization with the mission of engaging with communities through hip-hop culture to achieve meaningful impact in the fields of health, education, family, and the arts. Grants from the Knight Foundation Fund and the Central Carolina Community Foundation helped Love, Peace & Hip Hop build the exhibit.

In the past, Love, Peace & Hip Hop's most visible endeavor was World Famous Hip-Hop Family Day, a free festival that has brought classic hip-hop acts like Kool Moe Dee, MC Lyte, Kid N' Play, KRS-One, Big Daddy Kane, Slick Rick, and more to Columbia — the group announced this week that it will host Rakim on April 11.

But last year, the Columbia Museum of Art reached out to Love, Peace & Hip Hop founder FatRat Da Czar and the organization's director, Janet Scouten, with an idea.

"The collaboration with the Columbia Museum of Art began last year when they first reached out to Love, Peace & Hip Hop about bringing some of our festival programming to the museum," Scouten says.

The result was a show unlike anything the museum had done before.

"We held a fantastic event called 'The Get Down' on the Friday before the 2019 World Famous Hip-Hop Family Day on the newly redesigned Boyd Plaza and inside the museum itself," Scouten says. "We brought in b-boys and b-girls from Charleston and Charlotte to do some breakdancing, graffiti artists to do live painting demonstrations, and a DJ to spin old-school hip-hop. The place was packed, and people had an amazing time."

After "The Get Down" was a success, Love, Peace & Hip Hop and the museum began collaborating on something based more directly on the hip-hop culture of South Carolina.

"The concept of bringing the TRIBE project to the Columbia Museum of Art developed naturally from conversations we had with the museum about the rich and impactful history of South Carolina hip-hop," Scouten says.

SC producer WLPWER with Eminem. WLPWR has produced for Wiz Khalifia, Tech N9ne, and more - PROVIDED
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  • SC producer WLPWER with Eminem. WLPWR has produced for Wiz Khalifia, Tech N9ne, and more

The multimedia exhibition that was the result of those discussions has actually been rolling out in phases since last November, when FatRat Da Czar released a double-CD called TRIBE through his record label, Czar Records. The album compiles 25 tracks featuring hip-hop artists around the state, including Big Redd, H3RO, MIDIMarc, Cole Connor, and Courtney J.

Then in early January, a video was released for "Carolina," one of the tracks from the album that features Piazo, Guttah Fam AG, and Mel 1K.

Additional planned elements of the TRIBE project include a documentary film featuring interviews with influential South Carolina hip-hop figures, as well as community dialogues and roundtables.

"The process of curating this exhibition has spanned almost a full year," Scouten says, "and has involved connecting generations of South Carolina hip-hop across the state in a way that has never been seen before."

The man largely responsible for curating the TRIBE project says he's hoping not just to highlight South Carolina's past and current contributions to the hip-hop world, but to inspire future artists as well.

"I want generations to come to the exhibit and get educated, feel proud, and ultimately be inspired," FatRat Da Czar says. "We need to not only celebrate the important contributions of our predecessors, but to also invite the bright future of South Carolina hip-hop to reunite with lost and sometimes forgotten members of their artistic family."

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