What’s Important About These Items
Once upon a time, two best friends in upstate New York, who happened to be true fans of classic Hip Hop, decided to put on a weekly show. They would title this program “Mr. Throwback Thursday.” And the people said, Amen. Thanks to Jamie Robinson and Bill Winters, these “over-40-year-old white guys” who grew up with music share their love and knowledge of music, culture, and history every single Thursday. Jamie generously donated priceless memorabilia and photographs of the icons and pioneers on which we are building the Official Record of Hip Hop. We asked Jamie to identify a few of the many items he gave us and share why they were part of the gift.
Leading the way is this photo of Keith and Chris, better known as Guru and DJ Premier of Gang Starr, Jamie’s “all-time favorite group, in any musical genre.” This MC from Boston and DJ from Houston co-created the New York Hip Hop sound. Parting with this was not easy for Jamie, between his love of the duo and their sound, and his appreciation for how two friends, without feeling any pressure, are chilling in a hotel room. Still, “like any of this stuff, it’s better to share it with the world than to hoard it for myself.” Thank you, Jamie. Leaders lead.
Those of us who know and love the iconic MC (and UHHM supporter) Doug E. Fresh will identify this promo as something we would never see today. Not because it’s on paper, and because his name is spelled wrong: Dougie Fresh. Jamie stated, “This was common on the flyers we used to see, and it is something that would never be allowed today.” Besides being a priceless flyer, Jamie noted that the tickets for Super Fresh Fest were sold at the much-loved Record City (17 Academy Street, Poughkeepsie, NY), which is long since closed, its collapsed building removed from the site. “This one is as much a salute to Record City as it is to Doug E. Fresh,” declared Jamie.
Why Jamie Donated These Items to the UHHM
Access, which we touched on with Zack O’Malley Greenburg in our interview, is a big component of the UHHM and its outreach and programming. Most of us, even if we grew up or live in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Chicago, Los Angeles, or Paris, don’t have access to music icons. Regarding lack of access, Jamie was one of us here: “Growing up in Hyde Park, New York, we weren’t usually in early Rap groups’ tour paths.” Bill would drive them to the Hyde Park Swim and Tennis Club (where neither’s families were members) to get a better signal for 98.7 KISS FM on Friday and Saturday nights to catch Chuck Chillout and DJ Red Alert. So, in 1987, when Kool Moe Dee appeared in the neighboring town, Bill and Jamie were sure to be there.
Jamie’s donation to the Universal Hip Hop Museum underscores how important access and subsequent awareness, education, and inspiration are. When we asked him why we were the recipients of his donation, Jamie did not pause: “There aren’t any other places in the world that will respect the items, and display them for the public, like the UHHM. It’s not a local warehouse. It’s not someone’s storage unit. It’s not a room in someone’s apartment. It’s going to be a giant building that will not only house the artifacts of our culture; it will educate those who weren’t originally there to experience it.”
That’s what we’re aiming to do. No question.
Nowhere was this – educating those who didn’t have the opportunity to experience it when it happened – better exhibited than on what aired on June 3 2021, when UHHM’s own Adam Silverstein (Director of Archives and Collections) and exhibition curators Prime Minister Pete Nice (an MC in his own right) and Paradise Gray (Hip Hop icon, activist, and advocate) were guests on “Mr. Throwback Thursday” Episode 383. Besides Jamie and Bill running a fundraiser for us (a belated thank you, gentlemen), a conversation about items Jamie would go on to donate was in play.
Among the bon mots shared (and this one was related to MSN’s list of the ten (though 20 are included) top ten essential Hip Hop albums to which everyone should listen) was Bill saying, “Trying to pick a favorite Gang Starr record is like trying to pick your favorite kid.” And, the album identified by MSN as #10 on their list is Guru’s and DJ Premier’s Step in the Arena, which everyone agreed is the ultimate. Remember that when you pick up this spectacular record. Definitely listen to the episode, and hear how Jamie and Bill are as important to the building of the UHHM as those of us who are officially and formally part of the crew.
Around ten months ago, when Biz Markie had his homegoing, the Hip Hop community was devastated. We are still, and between tributes, listening parties, and memorials, Biz’s legacy lives. Jamie’s photo of him, a most valuable rarity, depicts him “a regular guy, in a bodega, look for some full sugar kid’s cereal.” And for everyone who knows him via Yo Gabba Gabba, as the Diabolical B-I-Z, Emmiza Emmiza, AR, or KIE, Jamie’s donation “shows him as somebody you could have grown up hanging around.”
Growing up and hanging around with someone born of and in the Hip Hop community. Sounds awesome to us. Thank you, Jamie.
In Jamie’s Words
“As a white kid growing up in rural New York, absolutely loving Hip Hop starting in the early 80s, and being told over and over to ‘Turn that crap off,” it fills my heart to know that I lived to see a museum for the culture that I have loved for so long.” – Jamie Robinson aka Mr. Throwback Thursday