The Rhode Island Hip Hop Project is researching the history of hip hop culture and community in Rhode Island and the ways in which this history has shaped the current position of hip hop in the state at large.
Through first-person oral histories with pioneers of hip hop in Rhode Island, we will explore the ways in which residents of Rhode Island utilized the elements of hip hop to reinvent their surroundings through their art and lived experiences.
It is our goal to research these extremely important, untold histories and produce a documentary showcasing the complex, personal narratives of those original producers of hip hop in Rhode Island as well as the crews preserving that culture today.
Production Timeline (2016-2017)
- September, October: Film
- November-March 2017: Edit
- Spring 2017: Screen the film throughout Rhode Island and online
This project is being led by Ana González and Jeff Matteis with fiscal sponsorship from The Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence and funding from The Rhode Island Council for the Humanities.
Our main inspiration comes from involvement with the Providence hip hop community, specifically Project 401. Working with these groups to produce live performances and music videos, the leaders of these communities have expressed to us a need to have their histories researched and shared.
While the research and production of our film will be objective and exploratory, the film itself will contain socially-minded elements that can serve as catalysts for transformation within Rhode Island. Making a project that brings to light underrepresented arts and histories in Rhode Island might inspire others to seek out and do the same.
In the past 15 years, RI’s hip hop scene has had several cycles of development and withdrawal, with most hip hop crews dying out due to a disconnect between groups. We are inspired to produce a film that unites members of the community and creates a network of artists that value these histories.
Through this research and our eventual film, the community of Rhode Island hip hop through the ages will hopefully gain more recognition not only for its essential role in the development of hip hop culture at large, but also for its function as a source of empowerment, community, and renewal in the state.
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Note: Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the Rhode Island Hip Hop Project do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.