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Hip-Hop in Houston – Book Signing

Department News, Houston Hip Hop
cover of Hip-Hop in Houston, courtesy of History Press

cover of Hip-Hop in Houston, courtesy of History Press

Don’t forget!  Mark those calendars!  Perhaps tie a string around a finger?

The University of Houston Bookstore presents a book talk and signing for Hip-Hop in Houston:  The Origin and Legacy by Maco Faniel (History Press) at 5pm Thursday, October 17th.  The event, co-sponsored by the University of Houston Libraries, will be held on the 2nd floor of the M.D. Anderson Library in the Honors Commons.  Our own Julie Grob, who penned the afterword for the book and heads our Houston Hip Hop collections, will join Faniel at the talk and signing.

Light refreshments will be available and the event will also feature a small exhibition of memorabilia from DJ Steve Fournier and Carlos “DJ Styles” Garza.  Parking is available at the Welcome Center or at the parking garage on Calhoun near Wheeler.  We hope to see everyone next week!

Pen & Pixel Graphics, Inc. Records – New Finding Aid Published

Finding Aids, Houston Hip Hop
Cash Money Millionaires, logo artwork

Cash Money Millionaires, logo artwork

The growth of our Houston Hip Hop Collections continues with the recent publication of the Pen & Pixel Graphics, Inc. Records finding aid.


Academics and “ballers” alike have heard the term and street cred is unnecessary to catch its meaning.  It is what John Nova Lomax of the Houston Press described as a “false onomatopoeia… the sound a jewel or precious metal would make if it could be heard.”  In 1992, as the twentieth century waned and the twenty-first century threatened to render the concept of “album art” obsolete, Shawn and Aaron Brauch founded Pen & Pixel Graphics, Inc. and went about helping to define the visual imagery that would become associated with so many hip hop artists from the Dirty South and beyond.


Labels like Rap-A-Lot, No Limit, and Cash Money Records came to rely on the Brauch brothers to create visually dense, hyper-stylized images of that “false onomatopoeia,” the monetary excess and conspicuous consumption contrasted against a reality of poverty, struggle, and reclamation.  This imagery became the face of a new, emerging sound in hip hop.  Given the pervasive influence of this visual style on an entire era of hip hop history, we are very excited to have this detailed finding aid now available to assist scholars in their research.

Snoop Dogg, Da Game is to Be Sold, Not Told, poster flat

Snoop Dogg, Da Game is to Be Sold, Not Told, poster flat

The Pen & Pixel Graphics, Inc. Records contain digital files, posters, t-shirts, and other promotional material for artists like Snoop Dogg, Geto Boys, DJ Screw, and others.  Give the finding aid a look, indulge in the sampling recently published in our Digital Library, investigate some of our other collections, and come see us when you’re ready to take a closer look at some visual hip hop history.

Welcome Back Students and Welcome Our Newest Fellow

Department News, Houston & Texas History, Houston Hip Hop, Performing & Visual Arts

This week not only marks the arrival of the fall semester and the return of students to the University of Houston campus but, as mentioned earlier in the week, it also marks the arrival of our newest fellow, Stacey Lavender.

As the Houston Arts and History Archives Fellow, Stacey will assist with the processing of archival collections and other tasks associated with the Performing Arts, Houston & Texas History, and Houston Hip Hop collecting areas.

In regards to what drew her to this fellowship, Stacey writes:

I was definitely excited that the position was specifically directed at recent graduates and that I would have the opportunity to work with several different types of collections. I also have just always had the eventual goal of working in a university library and I hadn’t had the opportunity to do that during graduate school. So I thought this would be a really great way to take the skills and knowledge I had from my previous work and educational experiences and learn to use them in a university library setting.

A native of the greater Houston area, Stacey joins us from Michigan where she earned her MS in Information from the University of Michigan.  While in Ann Arbor she also worked at the U.S. Geological Survey, Great Lakes Science Center, as a Science Records Intern, and as a Student Archivist at the Gerald R. Ford Library in Ann Arbor.  Earning her BA in History at Rice, she also has experience as a Records Specialist at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy.

We are very excited to welcome Stacey and have her lending her expertise to the UH Special Collections.

Houston Hip Hop Recording Artists Collection – Finding Aid Now Available

Finding Aids, Houston Hip Hop
Underground Kingz (UGK), from the Houston Hip Hop Recording Artists Collection at the University of Houston Special Collections

Underground Kingz (UGK), from the Houston Hip Hop Recording Artists Collection at the University of Houston Special Collections

The University of Houston Special Collections is pleased to announce that the finding aid for the Houston Hip Hop Recording Artists Collection has recently been published and is now available online.  Incorporating a number of smaller collections donated by local rappers, DJs, businesses, and other members of the hip hop community, the Houston Hip Hop Recording Artists Collection contains promotional materials, photographs, and publications documenting the unique Houston hip hop scene from the 1990s through the present day.

Back in 1991 Chuck D was quoted as saying “Rap is CNN for black people,” expressing the frustrations of communities bewildered by the lack of attention or concern from the mainstream media.  These untold stories would take root in freestyles, find themselves scribbled in notebooks, and performed on stages in front of audiences of different sizes and, eventually, different colors.

Music like hip hop, that establishes its presence organically outside of mainstream radio and record labels, is typically of interest in what it has to say not only in and of itself, but also what it has to say about the community from which it originates.  Much in the same manner that scholars and researchers flocked to the study of jazz as a means of shedding light on the Great Migration of the early twentieth century, those interested in what CNN (and the others) missed along the way have turned to the study of hip hop.  Unseen or unspoken in Chuck D’s quote is that hip hop became not only a national news network for otherwise uncovered topics, but it also became a local or micro news network, reflecting the specific anguish and joy of the individual communities which molded and shaped this genre to fit a particular need.

K-Rino, from the Houston Hip Hop Recording Artists Collection at the University of Houston Special Collections

K-Rino, from the Houston Hip Hop Recording Artists Collection at the University of Houston Special Collections

While the hip hop scenes of the West and East Coasts have received most of the limelight (and now study), the hip hop scene of our Third Coast or Dirty South might find itself shortchanged.  Our Houston Hip Hop collections help to fill that void, promising some exciting research potential.  In looking at the Houston Hip Hop Recording Artists Collection, coupled alongside the DJ Screw Papers, researchers are able to gain an understanding of how and why this particular, regional scene evolved in the manner it has and the myriad of ways it differs from its brethren on either coast.

Please give the new finding aid a look and come visit us when you are ready to take advantage of these uniquely Houston resources.

DJ Screw Papers Finding Aid Now Online

Finding Aids, Houston Hip Hop

DJ Screw snapshotExciting news from Special Collections: The DJ Screw Papers are now available for research! This small but important collection is a cornerstone in our Houston Hip Hop Collections and documents the influential late hip hop artist DJ Screw’s activities as a DJ and mixtape creator. Some of the materials in this collection are available for online viewing in our DJ Screw Photographs and Memorabilia Digital Collection.

DJ Screw began DJing and making mixtapes as a teenager while living on the Southside of Houston. By the early 1990s, he began to develop his innovative “chopped and screwed” technique of using recording technology to repeat phrases (a process known as chopping) and slow a song’s tempo (known as screwing). DJ Screw began to receive requests to make tapes tailored for friends and local rappers. He began selling copies of these “screw tapes” from his home. The screw tapes helped to develop the careers of numerous major rappers in the Houston scene, who would subsequently become known as the Screwed Up Click (S.U.C.).

Screw tape list

DJ Screw achieved broader popularity in the mid-1990s, and he continued to sell tapes while releasing four studio albums on Bigtyme Recordz: “All Screwed Up,” “3 ‘N The Mornin’ (Part One),” “3 ‘N The Mornin’ (Part Two),” and “I Wanna Get High with Da Blanksta.” In 1998, DJ Screw opened the store Screwed Up Records and Tapes in order to meet demand for his mixtapes.

Especially interesting items in the collection include song lists for the screw tapes, music production equipment, business documents, and photographs. If you’d like to take a look, come visit us in Special Collections!

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