Rhythm & Roots – from blues to hip hop

A musical journey in the Tropenmuseum

What do the music of B.B. King, Elvis and Giovanca have in common? On 13 May the music exhibition Rhythm & Roots – from blues to hip hop opens in the Tropenmuseum. More than any other form of cultural expression, music has moved from continent to    continent, inspiring more and more people. Many of the musical styles we know today have their roots in in Africa. From jazz to salsa, from hip hop to rock and roll, with a musical timeline Rhythm & Roots lets you hear the influence musical styles have on each other and shows their development.

Chuck Berry’s guitar, Elvis’s biker jacket

You can best discover how different musical genres have influenced each other by listening to them. Rhythm & Roots takes the visitor on a musical journey. Throughout the entire exhibition visitors can plug in their headphones and listen to the many music clips. Iconic objects, like Chuck Berry’s and Jimi Hendrix’s guitars, Elvis Presley’s leather biker jacket and James Brown’s cape, are on display. Musical instruments from the Tropenmuseum’s own collection are interspersed with the personal stories of today’s artistes. Soul singer Giovanca, rock and roller Danny Vera, rapper Akwasi and many others talk about their sources of inspiration.

Musical mix

Musical styles are constantly mixing and changing. During the time of slavery, African musical rhythms and sounds travelled in particular to North and South America. New musical styles, including blues and jazz, evolved there. With the arrival of vinyl these genres returned to Africa and were the inspiration for developments such as highlife and juju. Nowadays new media enable music to travel backwards and forwards freely and inspire people everywhere. At the end of the exhibition the music platform 22tracks – experts in the field of new music – cast an eye on the music of today and cautiously give their vision of the future.

The exhibition can be seen from 13 May to 30 October 2016 in the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam. It was previously shown in the Afrika Museum in Berg en Dal.

Note for the editorial board

Soul singer Giovanca is available for interviews on request. Exhibition maker Richard Kofi is also available for interviews. For more information and requests for interviews please contact Wilhelmien Hoekstra via T. +31 (0)88 0042 800 / 891 or E. pers@tropenmuseum.nl.

Take a look at the videos from the exhibition

About the Tropenmuseum

The Tropenmuseum is a museum about people. It is located in one of the most beautiful museum buildings in the Netherlands. The impressive listed building adjoining the Oosterpark, in the heart of East Amsterdam, dates from 1926. The imposing Great Hall offers a broad view of what the museum has to offer: an extensive permanent exhibition and regularly changing temporary expositions in which one by one each object tells a human story. Stories about universal human themes such as grieving, celebrating, adorning, praying and fighting. They make you curious about the enormous wealth of cultural diversity in the world. From Africa to West and South-East Asia, from New Guinea to Latin America. In the Tropenmuseum you discover that in spite of the differences, we are all the same.


Singer Giovanca with blues legend B.B. King

© Giovanca: Cees Beumer
© BB King: Getty Images


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B.B. King

 © David Corio
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Fats Domino

 © David Corio

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James Brown

 © David Corio

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Creole, Suriname, before 1777, RV-360-5696 – own collection

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Motor jacket of Elvis Presley

Courtesy of MPOP, Seattle, WA

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Guitar of chuck Berry

Courtesy of MPOP, Seattle, WA


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Rhythm & Roots – from blues to hip hop

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Rhythm & Roots – from blues to hip hop

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Rhythm & Roots – from blues to hip hop

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