Rap is now the most popular music genre in the U.S. Rap is also getting kind of old.
Celebrating both of these facts, the Smithsonian Folkways Recordings and the new National Museum of African American History and Culture are teaming up to create an expansive anthology of hip-hop and rap. The anthology will include a collection of nine CDs, along with a 300-page book of photos and essays, surveying how the genre has changed over the last five decades.
The Smithsonian launched a Kickstarter to fund the anthology, with a goal of $250,000. At the time of writing, it sits with just over $17,000 collected and 29 more days to go.
One might wonder why a federally-funded museum might be coming to the people for money, but don’t worry, their Kickstarter page answers that question:
The Smithsonian has always relied on private support in addition to federal funds. In fact, the Smithsonian was founded 171 years ago by a private donation to the United States government! Federal appropriations provide the foundation of the Smithsonian’s operating budget and support core functions – safeguarding our collections, building operations and maintenance as well as staffing. However, we rely on private donations of all sizes to support many of our priorities, including research, educational outreach and special projects.
Private donations run through the blood of the organization; didn’t you know that, average American? Anyway, the lowest pledge you can make to receive a reward is $2, and that essentially puts you on their mailing list; if you want to receive the book, you’ll have to donate at least $100. Pledge more, and you can receive rap posters, limited-edition Adidas sneakers, and even a tour led by Questlove of the NMAAHC. (The latter will cost you a measly $10,000.)
That might sound like a lot—potentially the kind of money you could put that towards the down payment on a house—but won’t that money help support the arts, or public preservation of the arts? No, it doesn’t. Stop being selfish with your rent check, and pledge you future rent checks here to support the Kickstarter.