Preserving Hip Hop Culture in Atlanta, GA

Explore original artifacts acquired from the studio of DJ Web, one of Atlanta's first party rockers. Hear him tell his story about the city's early hip hop scene. Acquired by Four Four Beat Labs, the collection is in the care of Georgia Tech's HipHop2020 Innovation Archive.

By HipHop2020 Innovation Archive

Michael Webster (2013-02-13/2013-02-13) by Michael WebsterHipHop2020 Innovation Archive

"It started with me in the 9th grade..."

On March 15-16, 2013, an acquisition team that included hip hop scholars,  archivists, technologists, DJs, and photographers met at the home of Michael Webster, a pioneering DJ of Atlanta's burgeoning Hip Hop scene in the early '80s and '90s. 

Led by Hip Hop and Media Studies scholar Dr. Joycelyn Wilson, the team's goal was to acquire, preserve, and begin restoring Webster's Hip Hop-inspired artifacts using new media technologies that offer an interactive, educational experience through the curation of his collection. 

The Michael Webster Collection was placed in the care of the Four Four Beat Labs' HipHop2020 Innovation Archive, which at the time was in the School of Education at Virginia Tech. It is currently located in the School of LMC in the Ivan Allen College at Georgia Tech.

More Look of the Extensive Collection (2013-02-13/2013-02-13)HipHop2020 Innovation Archive

The Room

Upon arrival, the team was led to a basement full of vinyl records, autographs, and street promo - many of which had been sitting for several years. Flyers and posters remained tacked to the walls and doors as Webster had left them.

Michael Webster Acquisition PhotosHipHop2020 Innovation Archive

Stacks on stacks on stacks!

Mountains of records were stacked along the walls and across the carpet. Some were stuck together under the weight of humidity, mold, and mildew brought on by area water damage. However, Webster had left the room relatively the same.

Michael Webster Archive Albums (2013-02-13/2013-02-13)HipHop2020 Innovation Archive

The Sequence!

Many records remained in alphabetical order inside the wood shelving built decades before by Webster. 

Michael Webster Acquisition PhotosHipHop2020 Innovation Archive

"I was filling a void that I was not aware I was filling..."

DJ Web wasn't the typical teenager who worked entry-level jobs. He stayed busy as a working party-rocker and mixtape-maker at 14 while attending Benjamin Mays High School in Atlanta, Georgia. After graduating, he got a job at the famous Peppermint Records in Greenbriar Mall.

We noticed sitting on a stack of records a set of business cards for Dynamic Sounds, the company he started with his high school friend, Chris Huggins. Webster referred to himself as a "Musical Technician". No area codes!

"I was booked!"

Watch here for more about his journey into Hip Hop and his organic come-up as a local celebrity DJ.

"It Was Just Us!"

As a budding DJ in the early years of Atlanta's hip hop scene, Webster had many opportunities to meet artists of the era including Grandmaster Flash, Roxanne Shante', The Fat Boys, Whodini, Kurtis Blow, and Prince protege and drummer Sheila E. Take a listen here.

"Just Say NO" Concert Against Drug Abuse ft Roxanne Shante - Autograph (The Golden Era) by Michael Webster CollectionHipHop2020 Innovation Archive

"To Michael...'": From Roxanne Shante

Known for her hip hop feminism, Roxanne Shante' released her first rap song "Roxanne's Revenge" in 1984 at 14 years old, which opened doors for women in the rap game. Two years later she performed at the Atlanta Civic Center for a "Just Say No" concert/contest against drug abuse.

Original Autograph Paper Plate from Grandmaster Flash by Michael Webster CollectionHipHop2020 Innovation Archive

"Keep on Rockin...": Grandmaster Flash

Hard-pressed to find a piece of paper, DJ Web opted for a paper plate to get Grandmaster Flash's autograph during his visit to Atlanta's Peppermint Records. Sprinkled with mold spots, the plate maintained its authenticity as it hung on the closet door in Webster's basement. 

Michael Webster Acquisition PhotosHipHop2020 Innovation Archive

DJ Toomp, Atlanta's Trap Music Architect

Webster's studio ultimately became an after-school hangout spot for many of Atlanta's youth. To enter, he required everyone to tag this cardboard wall with their names and aliases. 

A young DJ Toomp visited Webster's studio often. Toomp went on to become a sought-after DJ and producer for early ATL rappers Raheem the Dream and MC Shy-D. He is also the creator of the early trap music sound, and a multi-platinum producer for TI, Jeezy, Jay-Z, and Kanye West

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To experience more of the Michael Webster Collection...

See our story "Michael Webster's Vinyl Collection", which includes some of the classic albums and singles included in the collection.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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