WMU to celebrate 50 years of hip hop with Ernie Paniccioli


The Lewis Walker Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnic Relations will be holding an event at Miller Auditorium to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the birth of the hip hop music genre.The event will be on Sept. 28 at 6:30 p.m.

Western Michigan University and Kalamazoo Valley Community College (KVCC) have partnered for the event to host “Hip Hop Historian” Ernie Panicciolo.

Director of the Lewis Walker Institute Luchara Wallace recognizes the hip hop genre as more expansive than its 50 years in the music industry.

“When I say the 50th anniversary of hip hop, I mean the 50th anniversary of hip hop culture, because hip hop culture is more than just rap music,” Wallace said.

The event will recognize hip hop as a whole, including DJing, breakdancing, beatboxing, music, fashion and the educational and cultural awareness of the hip hop genre.

Panicciolo, known in the hip hop industry as Brother Ernie, first gained traction with his photography of graffiti art in New York City in 1973. 

Panicciolo has built an expansive profile within the hip hop genre over the last 50 years, building connections and gaining access to popular hip hop artists at the peak of their stardom.

“We’re bringing him to campus so we can learn more about his experience, not only as a photographer, but how did he build those connections? How did he maintain those connections?” Wallace said.

Pannicciolo’s work is currently featured at KVCC’s Center for New Media and Arcus Gallery and will be on display through Oct. 26.

Wallace encourages all community members to attend the event regardless of their background knowledge or experience with the hip hop genre. 

“Everything you thought that you knew, every assumption that you thought you had, is going to be completely blown by this experience,” Wallace said.

Tickets are free and available on the Miller Auditorium website. Those interested in learning more about the event and Ernie Paniccolio’s impact on hip hop culture can visit the Walker Institute of Race and Ethnic Relations webpage for more information.


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