A bejeweled pimp cup. A young Chamillionaire in do-rags. Slim Thug before the ubiquitous singles. Mike Jones clutching a cellphone on the cover of Murder Dog. These are only a handful of the Swishahouse images and memorabilia archived into the Special Collections at Rice University's Fondren Library.
Rice has released a video of some of the materials, and it shows Swishahouse head honchos G-Dash and Michael "5000" Watts poring over artifacts from the label's 15-year history. Rice professor Dr. Anthony Pinn helped mastermind the initiative through the Center for Engaged Research & Collaborative Learning at Rice University (p/k/a the H.E.R.E. Project).
Says Pinn: "Rice has an obligation to help Houston preserve its historical and cultural memory, in part because it's significant for us on a local level but also a recognition of the role that Houston has played in shaping the cultural lives of people in the United states and far beyond.
"You can't think of 20th century and 21st-century culture -- world culture -- without giving proper recognition to what hip-hop has meant," he adds. "So we are delighted to be able to initiate this effort through materials brought to us by Swishahouse. This has just been phenomenal."
The materials on display include: cassette tapes, awards (among them, a Houston Press Best Label award from '09), photos from Swishahouse beach parties and various video shoots and in-store signings, tapes, flyers, posters and more.
"A lot of these are from 1999 to 2004," says G-Dash.
"You see a lot of artists come and go," explains Watts, "but it's very rare when you have a situation where you're able to shape the culture of the city. And this right here lets you see how the culture of the hip-hop scene has been molded by some of our influences."
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