Home Grown - Manchester URBIS prepares to tell the story of UK Hip-Hop

By Culture24 Staff | 12 August 2009
A picture of a faded old poster with a long car in the centre

(Above) A poster from a hip-hop night at Camden Palace, part of an exhibition at Urbis in Manchester this October which aims to chart the history of hip-hop in Britain

Exhibition: Home Grown – The Story of UK Hip-Hop, Urbis, Manchester, October 15 2009 – March 2010

The key players on the domestic hip-hop scene could never be accused of lacking passion or inventiveness.

James McNally, one of the curators of this ambitious retrospective of four decades of hip-hop in the UK, admits to having little more than "a useless memory for everything bar the minutia of arcane British hip-hop," putting his knowledge to good use in the monthly magazine Hip Hop Connection. Co-curator Kid Acne is also known for covering Sheffield in witty, owner-endorsed graffiti when he's not putting on exhibitions or releasing his own albums.

A picture of a yellow record

Rarities from leading lights such as Roots Manuva are being feverishly gathered by organisers

Together they're part of a team aiming to reveal a host of unseen rarities, ranging from posters, clothing and rarely seen films to flyers from seminal club nights of the 1970s and photographs from early Massive Attack incarnation The Wild Bunch.

A picture of a colour drawing of a music venue with lots of people outside it

The acts and venues which have shaped the genre form a major part of the seven-section show

"British hip-hop has never had the recognition and kudos it deserves," explains Andy Brydon, another of the curators involved in the show at Manchester's URBIS.

"Many people are unaware of how British hip-hop has evolved and of how influential it has been. We have a wealth of talent in this country that has developed and grown in the last 30 years to become a respected musical force to be reckoned with.

"The artists that are consistently breaking through continue to push boundaries and take hip-hop further."

A picture of a ticket with a man's face on it

Tickets and flyers are among memorabilia on display

Efforts to pull memorabilia in from around the country have begun in earnest for the ambitious seven-section exhibition, which will start with the UK's fledgling black music culture of soul boys and reggae soundsystems before moving through b-boy culture, breakbeat, pioneering record labels and the rise of important acts such as Roots Manuva, Blak Twang and Lewis Parker.

A picture of a ticket

Other cultures such as reggae and dance are considered alongside hip-hop

"A lot of people are on board – this is a labour of love to celebrate UK hip-hop," adds Kid Acne, who is promising contributions from a broad range of sources including three-time MOBO nominee DJ 279 and the annual hip-hop festival Rising Styles.

Acne also admits to being anxious they "do justice" to a space which has already successfully housed displays on punk music and the rise of Factory Records as URBIS moves ever closer towards its aim of "reclaiming popular culture" through their programme of street-wise exhibitions.

A photo of a promotional poster for a music album

Urbis is hoping to repeat the success of previous music-related displays

"Visitors will be able to fully understand and appreciate for the first time how and why British hip-hop developed and where it goes from here," predicts Urbis's Pollyanna Clayton-Stamm.

"It's exciting to be highlighting a genre that has had such a huge impact on our culture, not just through music but also fashion, art and film."

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