Sarkodie performs on stage during Global Citizen Festival 2022: Accra on September 24, 2022 in Accra, Ghana.

Sarkodie performs on stage during Global Citizen Festival 2022: Accra on September 24, 2022 in Accra, Ghana.

Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Global Citizen.

Ghana's Hip-Hop Legacy: Celebrating 50 Years of Global Influence

The National Museum of Ghana celebrates hip-hop's 50th anniversary with "Culture Curators: Hip Hop 50" exhibition.

Hip-hop culture is currently marking its monumental 50th Anniversary with worldwide celebrations, the National Museum of Ghana, nestled in the vibrant capital city of Accra, is set to unveil a captivating exhibition titled "Culture Curators: Hip Hop 50." This exhibition pays tribute to this golden milestone while commemorating Ghana's profound influence and contribution to the global hip-hop movement through the genres of hip life, azonto, and hip-hop. These genres, nurtured by Ghanaians both at home and abroad, laid the foundation for the contemporary African sound takeover seen today, exemplified by Afrobeats, Ghana drill, and various unique African musical styles making waves globally.

In the 1990s and early 2000s, as hip-hop transitioned from its origins in American underground youth culture to a burgeoning global phenomenon, it also ignited the passions of Ghanaian youth, particularly those living abroad. Visionaries like hip-life grandpapa Reggie Rockstone marked their own "years of return" by introducing a new musical genre called hip-life. This fusion of hip-hop and Ghanaian high-life music featured rapping in local languages and was complemented by the iconic azonto dance, which eventually evolved into its own distinct genre, giving rise to viral dance sensations across Africa. Just as America had its Native Tongues movement, Ghana had its own Talking Drums era, introducing Rhythmic African Poetry (RAP) through groups like Ghana's first hip-hop pioneers who pushed their African roots.

The exhibition will feature a treasure trove of memorabilia, including hip-hop producer Eric "Coptic" Matlock's platinum plaque for Notorious B.I.G, DJ Kofi's 1995 Technics U.K. Mixing Championship jacket, the keyboard used to create hip-life legend Obrafuor's 1999 hit song "Pa Mu Ka" at BeatCAMP studios in Accra, as well as classic newspaper clippings from the '90s to the 2000s showcasing legendary hip-hop figures like Public Enemy, Fat Joe, Jay Z, and Busta Rhymes during their inaugural visits to Ghana for performances. Additionally, commissioned artworks from Accra Art Week will adorn the exhibition space at the National Museum of Ghana.

In line with the visionary words of Ghana's first president, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, "I am not African because I was born in Africa, but because Africa was born in me," Culture Curators: Hip Hop 50 forges and strengthens the Pan-African connections between Ghana and the diaspora through an archival exhibition that honors influential figures like Queens, NY native, Producer/Music Executive DJ. Rab Bakari, who played a pivotal role in coining Ghana's hip-life genre, and Bronx, NY native, Poet/Actor Craig muMs Grant, whose impactful trip to Ghana in 2008 led to the creation of the documentary "Black Star Rising," chronicling the sports and creative arts scene during Ghana's 50th year of Independence.

The hip-hop 50 exhibition will be on display at the National Museum of Ghana in Accra until December 2023. Monthly activations, changes, and additions to the exhibition are planned, ensuring that museum patrons can enjoy fresh and unique experiences every month, each focused on different elements of hip-hop culture.

The National Museum of Ghana, situated in the heart of Accra, is the largest and oldest among the six museums under the administration of the Ghana Museums and Monuments Board (GMMB). It was inaugurated on March 5th, 1957, on the eve of Ghana's independence, as part of the nation's independence celebrations.