Smithsonian Acquires Collection Of Classic Hip-Hop Photos

By Ally Schweitzer

This 1996 image of Foxy Brown and Lil' Kim has been acquired by the Smithsonian.
This 1996 image of Foxy Brown and Lil' Kim has been acquired by the Smithsonian. Maggie Trakas/Smithsonian

More than 400 classic photographs of hip-hop artists including Foxy Brown, Lil’ Kim, T.I., Black Sheep and N.W.A.’s Eazy-E have been acquired by the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Smithsonian announced last week.

Scheduled to open in 2016, the museum has already added some remarkable music objects to its permanent collection, including J-Dilla’s production gearchic dresses from En Vogue, a replica of Funkadelic’s mothership, items from Chuck Brown’s estate and a drum from protopunk band Death. (Bandwidth has done a lot of reporting on the museum’s music acquisitions. Catch up here.)

The newly acquired photographs come from the Eyejammie Hip-Hop Photo Collection, spanning images by a range of photographers. Music historian and former Def Jam publicity director Bill Adler assembled the collection, which showed at New York’s Eyejammie Fine Arts Gallery between 2003 and 2007, according to the Smithsonian.

Julia Beverly, founder of Southern hip-hop magazine Ozone and biographer of the late Texas rapper Pimp C, posted on Instagram this week that more than 20 of her images are included in the collection. Her photos feature Southern rappers Lil Jon, T.I., Slim Thug, David Banner, Rich Boy and Mike Jones.

Here’s the list of images Beverly posted on Instagram (warning: some explicit language):


The Eyejammie photo collection will be part of the Earl W. and Amanda Stafford Center for African American Media Arts, curated by Rhea L. Combs. Now under construction on the National Mall, the museum is scheduled for completion in fall 2016.

Here are some images from the Eyejammie collection:

Foxy Brown and Lil' Kim

Foxy Brown and Lil’ Kim, 1996 (Maggie Trakas)

Black Sheep

Black Sheep with World Trade Center in background, 1992 (Al Pereira)


Run DMC (James Hamilton)

Eazy-E in New York's Union Square, 1996 (Al Pereira)

Eazy-E in New York’s Union Square, 1996 (Al Pereira)

All photos courtesy of the Smithsonian.