Martha Diaz

Martha Diaz

Biography

Media Producer, Social Entrepreneur, Archivist, Curator, and Educator
Time Is Illmatic: The Journey, Music, and Legacy of Nasir Jones
Nasir Jones Hiphop Fellow
Fall 2017

 
 
 

Martha Diaz is an award winning media producer, social entrepreneur, archivist, curator, and educator. For twenty-five years, Diaz has traversed between the hip-hop entertainment industry, public sector, and academia. She has worked in Hollywood and independent movie productions, producing short films, TV shows, documentaries, music videos, and PSA’s. In 2002, Diaz founded the Hip-Hop Odyssey International Film Festival, the first festival of its kind. As an educator, she taught middle and high school students in Harlem and the Bronx, and for four years was a part-time professor at New York University's Gallatin School. In 2010, Diaz formed the Hip-Hop Education Center to cultivate and formalize the field of hip-hop-based education. She has published research papers on hip-hop education and is co-editor of the Hip-Hop Education Guidebook, Vol. I (Hip-Hop Association, 2007) and Rebel Music: Resistance Through Hip-Hop and Punk (Information Age Publishing, 2015). Diaz has served as a fellow at the NYU Reynolds Program for Social Entrepreneurship, fellow at the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation – National Museum of American History, resident curator/scholar at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and Columbia University Community Scholar. She has been a guest curator at the Museum of the Moving Image and The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. Some of her archival projects include working with Ralph McDaniels (Video Music Box), James Top (Graffiti TV), and Parkwood Entertainment (Beyonc√© Knowles-Carter). Her latest archive/documentary project is the Untitled, Tupac Shakur Documentary, directed by Steve McQueen.

Project Description

Time Is Illmatic: The Journey, Music, and Legacy of Nasir Jones

From public housing to Silicon Valley and Harvard University, how did Nasir Jones, better known as Nas, become the celebrated rap artist and icon he is today? The Time Is Illmatic Project will delve into Nasir’s history through small study groups that will introduce students for the first time to a digital humanities curriculum developed by Martha Diaz, hip-hop scholar and associate producer of the Nas: Time Is Illmatic documentary. Using media clips of the movie, never before seen interview footage from hip-hop luminaries, and other primary and secondary sources aggregated from the Internet and hip-hop archives, Diaz will examine Nasir’s life, musical journey, and legacy to understand his family background, upbringing, influences, and most important his skills and talents. Students will explore themes such as housing projects, gun violence, trauma, school-to-prison pipeline, and the role of music and the arts. The main goal of the pilot project is to obtain feedback from the participants to make improvements on the curriculum before it is introduced to the public. Building on the Center’s Jones collection, Diaz will also archive the cultural material and media assets of the movie.
 

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