The latest exhibition at Leeds City Museum is co-curated by the Hip Hop Historian Society, founded by Monk, a Leeds MC, graffiti artist and educator. A Hip Hop Journey: 50 Years of Kulture charts Hip Hop in Leeds, West Yorkshire’s unlikely home of rhyme.
Hip Hop as a style was first officially on the scene on America’s east coast in 1974, though rapping, “throwdowns” and social commentary had long been part of African American music (check out Talking Blues, Black Power Poetry and reggae, if you’re interested in hearing more). The exhibition sets out to trace the elements that were pulled together in the first Block Party 50 years ago in New York, and uses stories and memorabilia to bring the journey alive – you’ll see a reconstruction of a record store, and a full-size replica of graffiti-covered New York subway train.
Though MCs throwing down lyrics and deejays keeping the beat are integral to the movement, Hip Hop is not just about music. Its five core elements are defined by the Universal Zulu Nation (an International Hip Hop awareness group) as Emceeing/beatboxing, Deejaying, Aerosol Art, Breaking and Knowledge.
This multi-pronged movement captured the mood in post-Industrial Leeds, particularly in Chapeltown, where racial tension and protests erupted in uprisings in 1974, and again in 1981. Hip Hop’s positive ethos and values of justice, peace, respect, self-worth, community, and having fun, are fundamental to the success of UK Hip Hop and the wealth of homegrown talent in Leeds: the scene here has catapulted acts like Nightmares on Wax, Breaking the Illusion, LSK, Braintax, Skinnyman, Tommy Evans, Jehst, Part2ism, and New Flesh to fame.
The impressive City Museum is a Victorian-era landmark building with six galleries across four floors. Some of it is dedicated to Victorian curios and curiosities, with a modern, hands on feel, while the first floor is the huge Leeds story galleries (here you’ll find out more about how the city has been shaped by its landscape and people). The top floor temporary Hip Hop Kulture exhibition is part of Leeds 2023 (a year-long celebration of culture), though the exhibition runs as long as 24 March 2024.
Book your tickets at the box office here. The museum is closed on Mondays.
Affordable, convenient and comfy rooms close to the event you're going to
We recommend these three hotels:
Closest? Radisson Blu, a 2-min walk from Millenium Square and the museum
Cheapest? Ibis Styles, right by the First Direct Arena in the city centre
Feeling fancy? Boutique Malmaison Hotel with its sublime suites
The museum is on Millenium Square, a 5-minute walk from Leeds train station.
The usual high-end restaurant chains like Gaucho’s and Bill’s are nearby, plus the museum holds the family-friendly Herbarium Cafe (outdoor seating on sunny days).
The museum and exhibition are fully accessible to all visitors.
Affordable, convenient and comfy rooms close to the event you're going to.
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