The Fab 5 Freddy Archive at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
Fab 5 Freddy a.k.a. Fred Brathwaite (b. 1959) is a visual artist, filmmaker, rapper and producer. A regular guest on Glenn O’Brien’s TV Party and star of Charlie Ahearn’s Wild Style, he was also the host of the integral television program Yo! MTV Raps. Fab 5 Freddy was the key figure in bridging the gap between the New York downtown art scene and the graffiti and hip-hop culture of Uptown and Brooklyn. Freddy first gained notoriety as a member of the Fabulous Five graffiti crew, painting subway trains and city buildings along with Lee Quiñones. An essential figure and frequently exhibiting artist at Patti Astor’s Fun Gallery; he was integral to bringing graffiti, and especially hip-hop, into the mainstream, and helped pave the way for young, black artists. Besides working closely with Debbie Harry, Chris Stein, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Rammellzee, Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf, DJ Afrika Bambaataa, Kool Lady Blue, Henry Chalfant, and Futura 2000, Fab 5 Freddy directed music videos for Nas and executive produced the VH1 Hip-Hop Awards for five consecutive years.
The Fab 5 Freddy Archive consists of Freddy’s production materials and business records, scripts, treatments, and creative notes. The Archive also consists of a substantial collection of reel-to-reel tapes, VHS, CDs, and DVDs from Freddy’s career. Because of Fab 5 Freddy’s icon status, his archive follows the thread of hip-hop internationally including the narratives of lesser-known musicians, artists, and filmmakers along with that of world-renowned and groundbreaking artistic figures. Additionally, this archive includes clothing and behind-the-scenes photographs of hip-hop history, including the birthday party of Sean “Diddy” Combs. Many photographs are also production shots from videos and films Freddy has worked on from the 1980s up until present. The Fab 5 Freddy Archive is the most substantial collection of materials related to this integral figure in hip-hop history.