Hip Hop in the SCRC

Posted on December 6, 2018

JayQuan album cover
Front cover of JayQuan's album, Urban
Legend
. William & Mary Hip Hop
Collection (Mss. 1.19).

William & Mary’s Hip-Hop Collection features two unopened CD cases of Urban Legend by Richmond MC, JayQuan. Still in the plastic, the cover features JayQuan wearing a Harlem Globetrotters shirt with a city street in the background. In the top-right corner is “JayQuan” in large letters and in the bottom-right is “Urban legend” in slightly smaller text. In addition to his name and the name of the album, there are also the words “The Artifacts vs The Artificial” printed twice at the bottom in white letters. In the bottom-left corner is a parental advisory stamp and on the right-hand side, in-between the words JayQuan and Urban legend, there is a white sticker with blue letters detailing the inclusion of two hit singles: “Five Mics (feat. Grandmaster Caz & Grandmaster Mele Mel)” and “Get Down.” The back of the CD case shows JayQuan in an ECKO sweat suit in front of a panorama of Richmond, Virginia, recognizable by its skyline. On the left-hand side is the track list in white letters and at the bottom are the production credits, noting the album’s release in 2003 through JAH Music and naming Jermain A. Hartsfield and Patrick T. Chaplin as executive producers. The track list is as follows:

  1. Testament
  2. Incredible Lungs
  3. No Holds Barred
  4. Five Mics (feat. Grandmaster Caz & Grandmaster Mele Mel)
  5. Urban Legend
  6. Five Mics Remix (feat. Devine Mekkah, Grandmaster Caz & Grandmaster Mele Mel)
  7. Get Down
  8. Water Torture
  9. Long Winded
  10. Five Mics – Radio Version
  11. Five Mics Remix – Radio Version
Back cover of JayQuan's album
Back cover of JayQuan's album, Urban
Legend
. William & Mary Hip Hop
Collection (Mss. 1.19).

Notably, JayQuan self-produced all the songs on this album except for "Five Mics," which was produced by Dr. No. Also noteworthy about this album are the features from Grandmaster Caz & Grandmaster Mele Mel, two originators of Hip-Hop. A Bronx native, Grandmaster Mele Mel came up as part of the group “Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five,” and Grandmaster Caz gained prominence as a member of the Cold Crush Brothers; both groups were active in the late 1970s. Considered Hip-Hop legends and pioneers, both MCs' decisions to collaborate with the Virginia rapper provide a link between Hip Hop’s roots and Hip Hop in Virginia.

Though JayQuan never achieved national prominence, this CD is an important and little-known piece of Virginia’s Hip Hop history. Today, JayQuan continues to make music and document the history of the art form through his website “The Foundation."

The William & Mary Hip-Hop Collection includes oral histories, recordings of hip-hop music, publications, artwork, ephemera, and additional materials that document Virginia’s rich hip-hop history and culture. Currently, the collection is undergoing some restructuring, but is still available to visit in the Special Collections Research Center on the 1st floor of Swem Library. Anyone interested in donating items should call the general Special Collections line at 757-221-3090 or email spcoll@wm.edu with specifics about what you have available for donation.

Written by Eze Ragazzi, Hip Hop Collection Student Archivist