Amidst Administration Attacks The U.S. Postal Service Celebrates Hip-Hop Culture

Posted by Billyjam, August 13, 2020 06:49pm | Post a Comment

    While news headlines regarding the U.S. Postal Service of late may be depressingly negative ones regarding the current administration's defunding of the service and attempted voter suppression, there’s also a positive USPS related story. That’s word of the recently published colorful hip-hop themed series of Forever postage stamps that pay tribute to hip-hop culture’s four elements; DJing, MCing, B-boying and writing (aka graf or graffiti). Priced at the current 2020 First Class Mail Letter retail rate of 55 cents per stamp they are sold in panes (sheets) of 20 stamps for $11.

Each pane includes five copies of each of the four variations included.  At first glance these stamps may look like graphically painted images but in fact they are each photographs that have been touched up and filtered to create a moving 3D type effect. Each hip-hop element image is based on the work of photographer Cade Martin with art director Antonio Alcala adding various effects utilizing a yellow, red, green and black color scheme to energize each image.

Critical hip-hop purists have already weighed in the 2020 stamps saying that, while they appreciate the new series from the USPS, they think that the name of their beloved culture should have been written on the stamps in the widely accepted spelling of “HIP-HOP” rather than “HIPHOP.” Further these purists argue that the “GRAFFITI ART” stamp should have, in place of the “G” word, used “WRITING” to denote the aerosol art element of hip-hop.

Others further critiqued the “GRAFFITI ART” stamp design for not using an aerosol art piece intead of the female artist holding a spray paint can. But that would ruin the continuity of showing hip-hoppers in each of the four images. As a collector of music themed sheets of stamps issued by the post office my wish is that they had done the same style of design/layout that they have did as example for the Jimi Hendrix or Marvin Gaye panes of stamps. Those panes of stamps were cleverly designed to look exactly like a 45 inch single with a double sided design in a perfect 7” square shape, complete with image of the tip of a record showing, so that it really 
looked like vinyl record (see below). That would have been the perfect presentation for stamp celebrating a culture born out of the art of the DJ manipulating records. 

Note that August 2020 is actually not the first time that the USPS has issued a hip-hop design stamp. Back in January 2000 when a First Class Mail Letter was 33 cents they issued a “Hip-hop culture” stamp that was part of the much larger “Celebrate the Century” ten sheet series of postage stamps that covered various important events and cultural movements of the 20th century. Those stamps are out of print but can be found for sale by dealers for typically six times the original cost. Meanwhile the new USPS hip-hop stamps, that are a must-have for both hip-hop fans and stamp collectors, at your local post office or bought online here

Relevant Tags

Usps Hip-hop Stamps (1), 2020 Usps Hiphop Stamps Series (1), Hip-hop Culture (1), Marvin Gaye Usps Stamps Book/pane As 7" Record Design (1), Jimi Hendrix (22)