Acquisitions News

New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center Acquires Collection of Fred ‘Fab 5 Freddy’ Brathwaite

Fred “Fab 5 Freddy” Brathwaite.

COURTESY HEATHER STERN/SCHOMBURG CENTER

Some 120 boxes of archived notebooks, screenplays, fliers, and photography from the collection of hip-hop legend Fred “Fab 5 Freddy” Brathwaite are headed to the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem. More than half the materials in the archive are audio and video, though also included in the acquisition are photographs by Brathwaite—candid snapshots of rap icons such as Notorious B.I.G., Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, and P. Diddy.

Fred “Fab 5 Freddy” Brathwaite is a rapper, producer, and filmmaker who emerged in New York’s downtown scene during the 1970’s and early 1980’s. He went on to be the host of MTV’s popular music program, Yo! MTV Raps.

In a statement, Brathwaite said, “Growing up in Bed-Stuy [in] Brooklyn, our home was full of books and periodicals, as my dad was a ferocious reader.” He recalled visiting the Schomburg at his father’s suggestion. There, he came across “books by and about people like Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X, James Baldwin, J.A. Rogers, and one of my favorites as a kid, a book called Harlem on My Mind, filled with photos and stories on the history of Black Americans living in Harlem.”

Highlights from his collection include VHS recordings of rap music videos, three screenplays, and countless handwritten notes of ideas. Brathwaite continued, “Knowing my archive will be at the Schomburg, now and forever, is both gratifying and very humbling.”

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