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Preserving Virginia’s hip-hop history

A collage of images from Virginia’s Hip Hop history and culture.
Screen capture
VPM News Focal Point
A Virginia University is working to preserve hip-hop culture and history with the help of charter members. 

Virginia artists have made major contributions to the nation’s music culture. Hip-hop artists from the Hampton Roads area have influenced the evolution of hip-hop sounds. Since 2013, William and Mary University has been leading the effort to preserve this history in a special collection. 


KEYRIS MANZANARES: Virginia hip-hop artists from the 757 area have contributed immensely to the evolution of hip-hop sounds and culture.

THEODORE JAMISON: Well, the influence of hip-hop in the area is huge. It's prevalent. It's everywhere with our artists like Pharrell, Timbaland, Missy. They're like global icons, right?

CYMANDYE RUSSELL: Definitely, Virginia exemplifies the core of what hip-hop is for the fact that, you know, we respect the culture.

KEYRIS MANZANARES: Theodore Jamison and Cymandye Russell are hip-hop lovers and charter members of William & Mary University's Hip Hop Collection. They say Virginia has influenced the heartbeat of the genre. To celebrate hip-hop's 50th birthday this year, Jamison and Russell collaborated with the university to host an event in Norfolk, bringing together local artists. The library at William & Mary holds the most comprehensive special collection dedicated to Virginia hip-hop culture and history. Jay Gaidmore is the Director of Special Collections at William & Mary. He says the hip-hop collection was started by Kevin Kosanovich, a graduate student who was writing his dissertation on hip-hop history.

JAY GAIDMORE: The collection includes posters, photographs, flyers, brochures, newspaper articles, magazines, t-shirts, anything related to Virginia hip-hop history and culture.

KEYRIS MANZANARES: It also includes this flyer that got Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo of the Neptunes recognized at a Virginia Beach High School talent show in 1992.

THEODORE JAMISON: If we don't have anything to say, hey, this happened, this flyer or this date where hip-hop was still moving forward, then that history would be lost or erased, and we can't have that.

KEYRIS MANZANARES: Reporting for VPM News Focal Point, I'm Keyris Manzanares.


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