Oakland Museum Gives Hip-Hop the Respect it’s Earned

A photo by artist Amanda Sade Salako, part of 'Respect,' the show coming in March to the Oakland Museum of California.

A photo by artist Amanda Sade Salako, part of 'Respect,' the show coming in March to the Oakland Museum of California. (Photo: Amanda Sade Salako)

We’re looking ahead this week on The Do List to a few exhibitions we’re excited about in 2018, among them Respect: Hip-Hop Style and Wisdom, opening in March at the Oakland Museum of California (OMCA). Respect is part of a trend at the Oakland Museum and other institutions to take serious looks at pop culture. (OMCA presented a show about sneakers recently.)

“Hip-hop is misunderstood,” OMCA Senior Curator René de Guzman says, “that it’s all about gangsterism and misogyny. There are elements of that, just as there are negative elements in any cultural form or social group. The other misunderstanding is that hip-hop is simply a music genre, but it extends beyond that to include not only other art forms but principles, values and communities.”

Young Boys. 1981. East Flatbush an image from OMCA's upcoming show about hip hop
Young Boys. 1981, East Flatbush. Image from OMCA’s upcoming show about hip-hop. (Photo: Jamel Shabazz/OMCA)

So the exhibit, de Guzman says, will dig deep into hip-hop’s message of authenticity and political activism, with input from Bay Area icons like Oakland rapper and scholar Mystic and the Hip-Hop Chess Federation’s Adisa Banjoko.

My colleague Gabe Meline notes that the show promises to cover the music “beyond big business.” So he’s keen to see how the exhibition covers hustling pioneers like Heiroglyphics and Too Short, who sold tapes out of their trunks in Oakland to build their empires. Details here.

Oakland Museum Gives Hip-Hop the Respect it’s Earned 3 January,2018Cy Musiker

  • Eric Arnold

    thanks for writing this up. hip-hop can teach us a lot, and this exhibition promises to do so. i do have to correct you on one thing: Hieroglyphics never “sold tapes out of the trunk of their car.” That was Too Short, E-40, Mystik Journeymen, Hobo Junction, and others. Hiero got signed to Jive pretty early on in their careers (1992) and actually only went indie after that deal ended, in 1998. They were, however, one of the first hip-hop crews to use the Internet as a storefront.

    • Pam P

      Thanks for your knowledge and letting them know. It seems as though they should hire someone that actually knows the truth instead of guessing or generalizing.


Cy Musiker

Cy Musiker co-hosts The Do List and covers the arts for KQED News and The California Report.  He loves live performance, especially great theater, jazz, roots music, anything by Mahler. Cy has an MJ from UC Berkeley’s School of Journalism, and got his BA from Hampshire College. His work has been recognized by the Society for Professional Journalists with their Sigma Delta Chi Award for Public Service in Journalism. When he can, Cy likes to swim in Tomales Bay, run with his dog in the East Bay Hills, and hike the Sierra.

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