Research compiled by Jaysean S., Lee B., Seven. W., Jazlyn H., Angel P., and Aidan M.
The documentary ‘On Purpose’ is about the history of hip hop in Omaha. The team that created this film sought to uncover the narrative and historical context behind how the seeds of hip hop spread to Omaha from New York and elsewhere. With hip hop being a newer art form, they were able to interview eyewitnesses of the earliest days of hip hop in the city, as well as the very people who brought it here. They utilized the archives at UNO, including microfilm, to access primary documents related to the topic. The story that unfolded from this research was a familiar tale that played out across the nation. The Black community in North Omaha experienced systemic oppression in the same way Black communities in New York, Detroit, Los Angeles, and other major cities, and the tension this created boiled over in the 1960s with a series of protests which led to riots. Hip hop was born out of the ashes left over from this conflict. It served, and continues to serve, as a way for people to express, to escape, to identify, to bond, to commune, and is now one of the most popular forms of music worldwide. Although hip hop from Omaha has yet to break through to the national level, it continues to impact the city with a variety of talented graffiti writers, MCs, DJs, B boys and B girls.
Published on August 5, 2017
Students created this documentary as part of the OPS Making Invisible Histories Visible initiative.