About Project West

 

Michael Jackson’s legendary moonwalk… Low rider car clubs in Japan… Teenagers in Europe, Australia and Africa rocking white t-shirts, baseball caps and baggy jeans… Ashton Kutcher shouting, “Fashizel my Nizzel” Grammys… Sandra Bullock “throwing up” three fingers and yelling “Wessssiiiide” on the red carpet at the Academy awards…

 

These are just a few examples of west coast hip-hop’s lasting impact on pop culture worldwide.  And while hip-hop history is well documented, most accounts emphasize the achievements of rappers, dancers, graffiti artists, DJ’s and producers from the East Coast, New York in particular, while underplaying the accomplishments of artists from the west.

 

Project West is a museum exhibit, with film and street festival components, that explores the synthesis of dance, music, art and “street culture” from various communities, from California to Washington state, into the movement now known as west coast hip-hop.  This exhibit charts the west coast’s separate but equal narrative with origins in funk and the dance scenes of the 70’s, all the way to gangsta rap’s dramatic rise in the 90’s, on its way to becoming pop culture’s most dominant influence worldwide.

 

A partnership between the Mayme A. Clayton Library & Museum, and Ultra Wave Media, this exhibit will look at West coast dance, rap, dj’ing  and graffiti styles from a historical perspective.  Conceived and curated by filmaker and MCLM artist in residence, Gregory Everett (Award winning director/writer, music video director, television producer and Hip Hop Historian), Project West will chronicle and interpret the history of West Coast Hip Hop and its impact on popular culture globally.

 

The story of West coast hip-hop will be told primarily through the people who witnessed the evolution firsthand using archival footage, photographs, music, music videos and interviews with experts, trailblazers, stars, scholars, music industry executives and journalists – many of whom will be speaking for the first time about west coast culture.  As a result, the exhibit will blaze new territory, with both fresh and familiar faces, articulating an idiosyncratic west coast perspective that for too long has been ignored within mainstream hip-hop.

 The producers of Project West will mash the digital storytelling of the YouTube video-game generation with “old school”, hands-on production styles. Visitors to this highly interactive exhibit can catch film screenings, panel discussions, workshops, tours, and even a street festival.  Hip-Hop’s generation gap will be bridged as the “old skool” pioneers educate their “new skool” pupils about how things really were, back in the day.

 

As the organizing institution, the Mayme A. Clayton Library & Museum (MCLM) has organized an academic advisory panel of humanities scholars to aid us in the development and implementation of the Project West: The History of West Coast Hip Hop and Its Global Impact initiative.  The Project West initiative consists of four (4) components, a nine (9) episodes documentary series, a street & film festival, a collecting and preservation component and a traveling exhibit component.

 

The Project West documentary film series will capture interviews and assemble video footage and images of individuals and events integral to the development of West Coast Hip Hop. The collecting and preservation component will serve to identify, gather, document and preserve artifacts, images, art and ephemera chronicling the development and global impact of West Coast Hip Hop. This collecting and preservation component will aid in developing a major international traveling exhibit that will present history and development of West Coast Hip Hop. The exhibit will present the art, images, ephemera and material culture chronicling the many transformations west coast hip hop and its impact on popular culture globally. The street and film festival will celebrate West Coast Hip Hop in its "live" form with various concerts and events and films screenings associated with the culture.

 

The Mayme A. Clayton Library & Museum is proud to serve as the organizing research institution for this important initiative.