Music is a powerful form of artistry that transforms lives and enriches culture, and the Library of Congress has been dedicated to preserving and celebrating poignant pieces of work. Amongst its 2022 National Recording Registry inductees are albums created by visionaries Alicia Keys, A Tribe Called Quest and Wu-Tang Clan.
The Library of Congress—which is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution—cultivated the National Recording Registry to illuminate musical projects that have unequivocally shaped the landscapes of American history and culture. The library selects 25 recordings annually to give listeners a lens into different eras through music. The year’s list of selections included Alicia Keys’ debut studio album Songs in A Minor, Wu-Tang Clan’s 1993 project Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) and A Tribe Called Quest’s second studio album The Low End Theory which was released in 1991.
Each piece of work—which are classics in their own right—left indelible marks on their genres and the music industry as a whole; blending expressive lyricism with unique and distinctive sounds.
“It was so pure,” Alicia Keys shared in an interview while discussing Songs in A Minor. “You felt the truth that was coming from me. I think that the New York-ness in me was definitely a new energy. People hadn’t quite seen a woman in Timberlands and cornrows and really straight 100 percent off of the streets of New York performing classical music and mixing it with soul music and R&B and these songs that had big choruses and meaning, people could find themselves in it.”
Carla Hayden, who serves as the Librarian of Congress, says the projects selected are a reflection of “the diverse music and voices that have shaped our nation’s history and culture.” The registry currently has 600 recordings.
Last year, Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814 and Nas’ 1994 album Illmatic were added to the National Recording Registry. In 2019, Jay-Z’s The Blueprint became the 10th hip-hop album to join the collection.