There's a phrase, coined by Eric B. & Rakim, that's embedded in rap music's lexicon: "It ain't where you're from, it's where you're at." Now, a new exhibit in Oakland flips that idea of the present, called Respect: Hip-Hop Style and Wisdom.
Starting back in the 1970s with block parties in the Bronx, the timeline of the show means you'll see artifacts from all over — Grandmaster Flash’s turntables, LL Cool J’s tracksuit and more. But of course, we’re interested in the Bay Area history here, including a handwritten essay by Tupac comparing black men in America to early American revolutionaries (remember, Tupac once sued the Oakland police department — and won). There’s work by two of our favorite Oakland street photographers, Brittsense and Amanda Sade, showing how hip-hop still resonates in street style. And veteran rap writer Eric Arnold has put together a huge map of Bay Area hip-hop history that expands on his epic Rap Atlas: Oakland, marking important locations like the studio where Too Short recorded Born to Mack, or the Eastmont Mall, which birthed the sideshow as we know it.
There’s a wealth of rap history here in the Bay Area and it hasn’t always been well-chronicled. But with input from well-regarded local rap historians like Davy D and Jeff Chang, Respect: Hip-Hop Style and Wisdom is bound to help fix that. It opens at the Oakland Museum of California on March 24, and runs until mid-August. Details here.