Arkansas cultural center honors 50 years of hip-hop with pop-up exhibition

The exhibit, 'And the Beat Don't Stop: 50 Years of Hip-Hop,' is free to the public at Little Rock's Mosaic Templars Cultural Center.

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An Arkansas cultural center is celebrating the upcoming 50th anniversary of hip-hop with a special pop-up exhibition featuring artwork and artifacts commemorating the culture.

Little Rock’s Mosaic Templars Cultural Center is hosting “And the Beat Don’t Stop: 50 Years of Hip-Hop,” according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. The pop-up exhibition, curated by Courtney Bradford, opened on April 7, with an opening event featuring break dancers, graffiti art, poetry, and a live DJ duel.

Portrait Of Run-DMC At Grammy Awards
Run-DMC backstage at the Grammy Awards, New York, New York, March 2, 1987. Left to right, Joe Simmons (Run) Jason Mizell (Jam Master Jay) (1965 – 2002), and Darryl McDaniels (DMC). (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The exhibition features artifacts taken from a traveling exhibit, courtesy of the National Hip-Hop Museum’s Pop Up Experience and locally sponsored by The Design Group, with shadowboxes representing different artists, like Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, and Ice Cube. Inside the shadowboxes are photos, records, and awards.

Also included in the exhibit are special sneakers – Adidas and Patrick Ewings – signed by artists. Some kicks were customized with the faces of late hip hop legends like Biz Markie and Digital Underground frontman Shock G.

Visitors can see examples of old-school hip-hop fashion in the form of two mannequins adorned in outfits popularized by Run DMC —Adidas tracksuits, Kangol hats, and gold rope chains — with one positioned at a DJ booth, the Democrat-Gazette reports.

The official 50th anniversary of hip-hop, as signified by DJ Kool Herc’s after-school party in the Bronx in August 1973, is still a year away, but Bradford wanted to honor the milestone.

“Around this time last year, I was trying to think of what was going to be like the next big thing,” Bradford said to the Democrat-Gazette. “I saw that the 50th anniversary of hip-hop was coming up; it’s actually in 2023. But I kind of wanted to give it a head start. And it’s funny how it all worked out with me wanting to do this exhibit.”

Bradford said the exhibition is as much about the people who embraced hip-hop culture as much as it is about the artists who created it.

“Some people grew up in a hip-hop culture,” Bradford said. “I grew up in it a little bit, but people [for whom] this is for real; what they live, eat and breathe — it’s almost like an homage to them, and to celebrate the culture, the hip-hop culture. I’m really excited about this.”

“And the Beat Don’t Stop: 50 Years of Hip-Hop” is open Tuesdays through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center. The exhibition will be displayed until July 7 and is open to the public with free admission.

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