See hip-hop evolve through photos at the African American History and Culture Museum | Smithsonian Insider

In the late 1970s, hip-hop burst onto the scene in the Bronx in a cultural explosion of rapping, breakdancing and beatboxing, but it didn’t happen in a vacuum.

Hip-hop built on traditions developed over decades by African-American musicians, dancers and artists. An engaging photo exhibition at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture explores those ties through the pairing of photos of hip-hop pioneers with their predecessors.

“It shows how hip-hop went from a Bronx-based cultural expression to a global billion-dollar industry,” says Rhea L. Combs, the museum’s curator of photography and film.

Represent: Hip Hop Photography” explores four themes of how identity, creativity, activism and community influenced elements of hip-hop, including DJs, MCs, break-dancers, and graffiti artists.