Hip-hop has come a long way. Birthed in the gritty streets of the Bronx in the late 70s, the once frown-upon genre is now a global phenomenon. Hip-hop has earned respect in the streets, on the charts, in boardrooms and even from the Library of Congress.
Easily one of the largest libraries in the world, the LOC acts as the US’ national library and is the oldest federal cultural institution in the country. Audio recordings including everything from iconic speeches by American icons such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Franklin D. Roosevelt to podcast episodes featuring the world’s greatest comedians to game-changing hip-hop releases are also archived by the Library of Congress.
The Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry archives “audio treasures worthy of preservation for all time based on their cultural, historical or aesthetic importance in the nation’s recorded sound heritage.” There are about 600 musical recordings that were released between 1921 and 2010 that are a part of LOC’s National Recording Registry. Although there are thousands of songs nominated, only 25 new entries are archived every year.
The National Recording Registry houses a diverse collection of musical recordings that span across popular genres such as rock, pop, r&b, country, latin and hip-hop. This year’s group of iconic LOC entries includes classic creations from Wu Tang Clan and Tribe Called Quest. Tribe and the Wu are just the latest rap acts to make the list. Back in 2004, Public Enemy became the first hip-hop act featured in the Library of Congress after their Fear of a Black Planet album was added to the National Recording Registry. Since then, several more rap albums and songs have been included. Here’s a look at the 12 hip-hop releases that have been archived in the Library of Congress.