Introducing the Free Library's 50th Anniversary of Hip Hop Art Card

By Bridget G. RSS Tue, September 5, 2023

The Free Library of Philadelphia is celebrating the 50th anniversary of hip hop with a limited-edition art card available at ALL Free Library locations — while supplies last!

This extra-cool card design was commissioned by the library from Philadelphia artist Akinseye Brown, who created the design with Philadelphia’s hip hop history in mind.

Of the design, Brown says,

“I wanted it to be bright, have an impact to it, and be daring because I want people to say, ‘Wow…the Free Library went hip hop. They went to the veracity that’s in the art, the music, dance, and style.’ The imagery is key because the Liberty Bell is ours as well. That is hometown Philly. The overall design is going to be a talking point for people because no one can claim what we do but us. It represents the bravado and self-confidence that hip hop gives young people. It represents Philly."


Mini Jawns with Kathy Iandoli

Welcome to Mini Jawns — an exploration of Philly Hip Hop History with Hip Hop Author Kathy Iandoli. Kathy is a critically acclaimed journalist and author. She has written for Vibe, The Source, XXL, Billboard, and many other publications.


Lady B

In 1979, Philly radio jock Lady B was one of the first artists to record and release a single titled “To the Beat, Y’All.” Her single was later re-released in 1980 by Sugar Hill Records. The song did more than make a splash; the title alone became a cornerstone of hip hop slang.

DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince

Before dominating Hollywood, Will Smith was the Philly-bred MC in DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. And in 1989, the duo won the first Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance for their comedic single “Parents Just Don’t Understand,” marking the first win for hip hop in Grammy history.

The Roots

Many regard The Roots as the first hip hop band, as the three-time Grammy Award winners deliver a live music element from the stage to the studio. However, these Philly natives also made history as the first hip hop group to ever become a house band for the most influential TV show in late night, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.


Rapper-slash-actor Eve has broken records in rap, as the third female rapper in history to peak at Number One on the Billboard 200 with her 1999 debut album Let There Be Eve... Ruff Ryders’ First Lady. But the Philly Ruff Ryder also rocked Hollywood with her own sitcom, Eve, where she starred and served as an Executive Producer on the series.

Meek Mill

Philly rapper Meek Mill made the swift move from battle rap to the mainstream, though he’s made more waves in society beyond his music. In 2021, Meek became the first rapper to receive the Nelson Mandela Humanitarian Award for his changemaking efforts in criminal justice reform.

Come celebrate hip hop’s 50th year by reading some prolific works by a wide range of hip hop authors at the Free Library. Pick up your commemorative hip hop library card at a Free Library location near you. 

Those interested in obtaining a Free Library hip hop card must do so in person at their local branch and need to bring a photo I.D. to do so. Patrons who already have a library card and wish to replace theirs with the special edition hip hop art card should keep in mind that switching out cards means that they will receive a new barcode number. For more information on how to switch your old card to the new hip hop art card, ask a librarian.

Have a question for Free Library staff? Please submit it to our Ask a Librarian page and receive a response within two business days.

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While listening to music during my college semesters, I manage to make certain decisions in-order to be structured for a new day, week and continue to build a good tune for an averaged read.
Ephraim Pintro - Lawncrest Library
Tuesday, June 20, 2023

I will like a new special edition of the new hip hop card
Dorothy - Philadelphia
Tuesday, June 20, 2023

how can I get my library card here in north carolina
Sterling spivey - North Carolina
Wednesday, June 21, 2023

How can i get a new library card the hip hop edition one?
FRANK PALMER - Philadelphia
Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Great work FLP Graphics team! #hiphop50
Jamie - West Philadelphia
Friday, June 23, 2023

I would like a 50th Anniversary library card
Naimah Ricketts - Philadelphia
Sunday, June 25, 2023

We would like you have the special addition card.
Imani whitaker - Port Richmond
Monday, June 26, 2023

Hello, I would like to obtain the Special Edition Card, is that still possible? Thanks!!
Emilee Smith
Tuesday, June 27, 2023

I would like to get my free library card as hip-hop card
Srujanika Roy - Philadelphia
Tuesday, June 27, 2023

How do I get my special Philly library card. Can i just pick it up. from some location.
Ezekiel Thorpe - 40th chestnut street
Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Special edition hip hop cards are available in-person at your local Free Library location. In order to obtain the card, you must bring a photo ID with you.
Bridget - Parkway Central Library
Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Just saw this post. My library is West Philly 52nd and Samson
Theressa Tull - Philadelphia Pa
Saturday, July 1, 2023

I would like to get the hip hop library card
Q. Wilson - West Philadelphia
Sunday, July 2, 2023

I am Soo excited to See the Bet Awards 2023 and it was the bomb y'all I really love it
Jerome - Philadelphia Pa
Sunday, July 2, 2023

Can i get hip hop edition library card
Frances Milagros v Rodriguez - Philadelphia
Wednesday, July 5, 2023

The City o Philadelphia's LinkedIn page worded this as the card being available "beginning June 20" but the post above makes it seem as though the card was only available on June 20. Is the HipHop Library card still accessible to people?
Alyssa Blocker
Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Hi Alyssa, the hip hop library cards are available throughout the library system while supplies last.
Bridget - Parkway Central Library
Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Kathy Bailey - Philadelphia
Monday, July 17, 2023

I Love Hip Hop
Karen Davis - Philadelphia
Thursday, July 27, 2023

I just picked up one today from the Nicetown-Tioga library! It looks so nice and shiny. Great design! Thank you!
Christian Michael Leu - Philadelphia, PA
Monday, July 31, 2023

I got one today at the Nicetown-Tioga branch! Thank you!
Christian Michael Leu - Philadelphia, PA
Monday, July 31, 2023

Please supply local libraries with more hiphop cards or allow the option to have one mailed out I'm a huge hiphop fan and would love to have one of these!
Jamie Dixon - Philadelphia
Monday, August 7, 2023

Arnold Jackson Jr - East Norriton
Sunday, August 20, 2023

Philly leaves Lil Uzi Vert out of everything.
Sunday, September 10, 2023

I would love a Eve library card
Tawanda Moye - Philadelphia
Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Happy 59th Anniversary
Vanessa Johnson - Philadelphia
Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Are these cards still available?
Gunya Golden - Philadelphia
Wednesday, September 13, 2023

This is a Dope project!
Rhonda Washington - Philadelphia
Thursday, September 14, 2023

Hi, I would be happy to get special edition hip hop art card. Thank you.
Aigul - Bustleton Philadelphia Free Library
Saturday, September 16, 2023

Where in Philly can I get a card? This is AWESOME!
Radiah Whaley Fowler - Philadelphia
Saturday, September 16, 2023

This is awesome!!! Definitely going to get the family new cards.
Clarissa - Philadelphia
Saturday, September 16, 2023

Would like a card, so when I come to Philly next month, I'll already have it.
Jess Junious - York
Saturday, September 16, 2023

Are the hip hop cards still available?
Debra Holloway - Philadelphia/Whitman branch
Sunday, September 17, 2023

I would like the new library card limited edition
Gwendolyn - Philadelphia
Sunday, September 17, 2023

Congratulations with a loud "*Hip Hop Hooray" at the Free Library ✔️ "What an awesome collaboration of skills on deck Philly Philly!! Love the way this technique is used to represent!!" Gisela R. North Philadelphia (*Naughty by Nature)
Gisela Rios - Philadelphia North Side
Sunday, September 17, 2023

I would like a hip hop card
Tony rivera - Philadelphia
Wednesday, September 20, 2023

YES! For the culture
CA Chase - Philadelphia
Friday, September 22, 2023

I would love to have a hip hop art card.Thank you.
Brenda Timbers - Philadelphia
Saturday, September 23, 2023

Hi I would like to get a library card , however I'm a truck driver and I won't be home until October 17th
Ayat Aziz - Philadelphia
Saturday, September 23, 2023

Excellent excellent!!!!
Tracey Riggns - Philadelphia
Sunday, September 24, 2023

Camille Bounds
Monday, September 25, 2023

Thank you for teaching me to express myself through poetry with hip-hop.
Camille Bounds - Philadelphia
Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Where is Tuff Crew and Schooly D?
Jim Eagle - PHILA
Wednesday, September 27, 2023

It makes sense to make a card celebrating philadelphia graffiti and make no mention of it in the actual drawing. It's also pretty weak to add this when Philadelphia has a long history of trying to eradicate graffiti completely from the walls since the 80s and then hire an artist who obviously has no idea what Philadelphia graffiti is about.
Ishiswack - Philly
Friday, September 29, 2023

I will like a new special edition of the new hip hop card. I love hip hop
Leslie Marshall - Philadelphia
Friday, September 29, 2023

Hip Hop Is The Culture!
Antoine Frazier - Philadelphia
Saturday, September 30, 2023

I just ordered a library card but would love to have this one.
Gary Moore - Philadelphia ,Pa
Sunday, October 1, 2023

How do I get one
Sunday, October 1, 2023

Please provide roots one if possible
Treas Underwood - Philadelphia
Monday, October 2, 2023

Please provide Eve
Revé underwood - Center city
Monday, October 2, 2023

Will smith one if possible thank you
Miasia Underwood - Center city Philadelphia
Monday, October 2, 2023

Are the hip hop cards still available
Tara Williams - Philadelphia
Monday, October 2, 2023

To Pratt - Philadelphia
Wednesday, October 4, 2023

I would like the meek mill special hip hop library card
Dara Carey - Philadelphia
Thursday, October 5, 2023

I love hip hop. I Am hiphop
Cory Singleton
Thursday, October 5, 2023

Felicia Jacobs - Philadelphia
Thursday, October 5, 2023

I will like can hip hop card
Friday, October 6, 2023

I would love a 50th Anniversary Hip Hop Library card, it reminds me of my childhood.. Starting from the beginning with Grand Master Flash & the Furious Five 💃🏾❤️
Monica Mapp - Free library of Upper Darby Municipal Branch
Friday, October 6, 2023

Need that card ASAP unable to ambulate to a library branch.
Angel Granby - Philadelphia
Sunday, October 8, 2023

Love hip hop
Imani Sullivan - Philadelphia
Wednesday, February 21, 2024

I want to know how to do breakdance🥲🥲
Emiliano Vargas - Philadelphia
Tuesday, April 23, 2024