RAS Students Visit Cornell Hip Hop Collection

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Ben Ortiz displaying rare recordRegional Alternative School (RAS) seniors recently took a trip to the Hip Hop Collection at Cornell University.

The Hip Hop Collection is an archive that documents the early development of hip hop culture and is housed in the Cornell Rare Books and Manuscripts Collection at the Carl A. Kroch Library. Students were greeted by Ben Ortiz, the collection’s assistant curator.

Ortiz spoke to the students, telling the story and cultural context that led to the birth of hip hop. The discussion included examples from modern politics and pop culture to show the influence that hip hop has had in the decades since its development.

A large portion of the discussion revolved around influential DJ Afrika Bambaataa, whose record collection is housed there. Students were able to see some of the original records that stand as historical documentation from the early days in the development of the genre.

“It was amazing to see some of those historical items,” said RAS student Cayley Lower. “It was like diving into history, it made the conversation more real.”

The visit was related to a research project assignment for students in the African American Literature class. Students will pick a writer or musician to research and compile information into an encyclopedia entry-style report.

“It felt like a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said RAS student Nesiah Lee. “Definitely worth the time to go see.”