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The Library of Congress finally recognises hip hop pioneers

Albums by Wu-Tang Clan and A Tribe Called Quest will be archived in the Library of Congress, the National Recording Registry announced today.

Each year, the Librarian of Congress with advice from the National Recording Preservation Board adds 25 sound recordings to the library archives. The recordings must be audio treasures worthy of preservation due to their cultural, historical or aesthetic importance to the nation. They must also be at least ten years old.

Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden said: “The national library is proud to help preserve these recordings, and we welcome the public’s input. We received about 1,000 public nominations this year for recordings to add to the registry.”

Wu-Tang Clan
Credit: Endeavor/Mass Appeal

This year, the two hip hop records that have been included are Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) by the Wu-Tang Clan and The Low End Theory by A Tribe Called Quest.

Other full-length additions to the registry include Alicia Keys’ Songs in A Minor, the Shirelles’ Tonight’s the Night, and Terry Riley’s In C, among others. In addition to the acknowledgement of artists who have deepened and expanded the genres of hip hop and R&B, the announcement also includes another noteworthy addition: Latin music is prevalent.

Rappers such as Tupac Shakur, Nas and Lauryn Hill have been added to the list in previous years but hip hop like Latin music remains a neglected category in the registry. It’s a welcome surprise to see state authorities recognising talent within hip hop considering the lengths artists have had to go to in order to be recognised as innovators amid high-brow cultural snobbery. Here’s to hoping high school students in 2050 will be studying these tracks in English and history classes. They certainly deserve the attention.