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Day One DNA: 50 Years in Hiphop Culture

December 1, 2023


December 1, 2023
Event Category:


The Ethelbert Cooper Gallery Of African and African American Art
102 Mount Auburn Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States

Afrika Islam and Ice T stand together looking seriously into the camera. Afrika is wearing a white baseball cap with an alien on it and a sweatshirt for Zulu Nation with a raised fist in the center of Africa. Ice T wears a black sweatshirt for Zulu Nation

Curated by Laylah Amatullah Barrayn

On view from November 3, 2023, to May 31, 2024

Day One DNA: 50 Years in Hiphop Culture is an immersive multimedia exhibition celebrating 50 years of hiphop culture through the archives of hiphop icons and longtime collaborators Ice T and DJ Afrika Islam. Their collection has been assembled over decades and is one of the world’s largest private repositories of hiphop ephemera and artifacts.

Presenting over 200 objects from their holdings, Day One DNA is divided into thematic sessions, each offering a distinct perspective on the cultural, political, and economic influences that shaped Ice T and DJ Afrika Islam’s artistry through uncharted territory. On view are items such as tour laminates, studio reels, archival photographs, party fliers, magazines, custom-made garments, jewelry, musical instruments, and recording equipment. The exhibition opens a personal lens on the early days and evolution of this genre that has become a dominant cultural vernacular in the U.S. and across the globe. Day One DNA celebrates Ice T and DJ Afrika Islam’s legacy while journeying through their creative process and influences that sustained their careers.

Day One DNA is on view from November 3, 2023, to May 31, 2024, at The Ethelbert Cooper Gallery and is curated by Laylah Amatullah Barrayn.