Bad track record

Physical Installation Space & Interactive AR App
San Jose State University
Graphic Design BFA Thesis
To listen to the Hip Hop playlist featured in this installation, click on your preferred streaming service:
Apple Music
In an effort to explore and uncover hidden meanings and history behind hip hop, I study and display iconic lyrics from some of the original hip hop songs from the golden age. Using a physical installation space and interactive AR app, visitors in the space are able to ready and listen to the lyrics of hip hop songs in a new perspective; One that hopefully gives them new perspective about the racial inequalities, economic despairs, and inevitable violence that hip hop was born in.
To see the full process of this project, click HERE.


Contrary to popular preconceptions, hip hop is not just vulgarity and violence mixed with a beat. Hip hop carries deep, meaningful culture that tells unseen stories.


As a globally publicized form of music, hip hop is one of the most misunderstood and stereotyped genres of music there is today. In modern times, hip hop is both loved and hated, remembered and forgotten, accepted and rejected; stolen and given. The truth of hip hop can easily be lost in lyrics about sex, drug abuse, violence, gangs, and profanity, but to understand hip hop as a whole, one must ask these questions: Who was hip hop for? Why did it exist? What did it mean at the time of its birth and what does that mean for the world today?
Something that many often forget is that hip hop is an expression and form of art. There are methods as well skills that are practiced and perfected. Four elements encapsulate hip hop’s essence: deejaying, rapping, break dancing, and graffiti. These four elements are the foundations of Hip Hop. 

Research Questions

  • What environment was hip hop born in?
  • Why did it exist in the first place?
  • What does that mean for the world today?
  • What could it teach us in today’s culture?

Project Focus Points

Origins of Oppression
​Hip hop was born out of terrible circumstances of racism, classism, and economic despair. 
The Uprising
​Built on the foundational elements of rapping, deejaying, break dancing and graffiti, Hip hop became the main platform in which their voices were heard. They were able to rise up. 
Proclamations of Hope
Hip hop has now become a global phenomenon. It has also brought triumph and victory to those who began at the very bottom of the chain. 
The 4 Elements of Hip Hop
Hip Hop is built with the 4 elements which is deejaying, rapping, graffiti, and break dancing. 
To read the full documentation of research and process, click HERE.
The truthful fight behind Hip Hop’s revolution is something that America often chooses to ignore and forget: Slavery, racism, racial inequality, white supremacy, police brutality, and more. For those who see hip hop as “unethical” or something that needs to be censored, it is an important step of respect to recall the truth of history and acknowledge the story of African American minorities in the states. Only then, can one begin to understand
hip hop as not only a genre, but a culture. 
To illustrate 3 findings I made in hip hop music and lyrics, I've divided the genre into three categories: The birth setting of Hip Hop, the uprising and revolution of hip hop, and lastly, the proclamations of hope. In categorizing the music, one can more easily digest the music and meaning.

"The truthful fight behind Hip Hop’s revolution is something that America often chooses to ignore and forget..."

The Goal

The goal is to emphasize deep history behind how hip hop came to be (dating back to the earliest days of slavery), why hip hop exists, the significance of hip hop and how we (as “outsiders to hip hop”) should respect and learn from it (as a form of human respect and learning history). 
This project is meant to be inviting and educational; Not to be condescending or superior, but to extend a different point of view and give an opportunity to reflect. It is an invitation for viewers to see look deeper into their preconceptions.

Research Outline

Setting the Scene
  • How America’s slave days heavily impacted Hip Hop’s culture and meaning.
  • Brief history of social injustice in the US. 
  • Environmental effects that shaped Hip Hop.
The Revolution
  • The human need to create and connect no matter what circumstance.
  • Hip hop—what became the platform for the unheard to find a voice.
  • Hip hop’s evolution and globalization. 
Why it matters today
  • Hip hop is a way to learn history.
  • Learning about hip hop is to respect  human dignity and livelihood.
  • How hip hop fights racism, classism,  stereotypes, and sparks change.
To read the full documentation of research and process, click HERE.


Hip hop has been argued over and debated about for decades. What use would it be to echo the same words that lead to tension and complacency? To argue a topic such as this one, one would need a new perspective and new way to approach it. Since hip hop is already an audio form of art, I thought that a physical and visual way to approach it would encourage new reflections and perspectives.




Visual Diagram

To more visualize the research and observations, I came up with this simple abstract diagram. Lines indicate individuals, artists, and styles that represent hip hop and culture. 
  1. Hip Hop building up from the depths of racism, social injustice, and economic despair. OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
  2. Hip Hop becomes a platform that many minorities use as a voice to speak up and rise.   OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
  3. Tension will always play a role in the rise of hip hop. Even today, Hip Hop is controversial and a heavily debated topic. OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
  4. Despite facing criticism, misuse, and censoring, Hip Hop becomes one of the world’s most popular genres of music; it becomes global.

“Keep in mind when brothas start flexing the

  verbal skillz, it always reflects what’s going

  on politically, socially, and economically.”


—Musician Davey D


These prototypes were built off of some of the sketches in the ideation phase. The initial prototypes were made primarily out of foam board, thread and cardstock. These were built in correspondence with two of the sketches in the ideation phase.
The purpose of this stage of the project is to test the form and understandability of the concept. Building these forms helped me decide what to do or not do. Most of these forms came out to be either too abstract or too literal. They were missing several elements and layers.

Final Solutions

As stated in my research findings, I created categories that better help people understand hip hop and its essence. With these three categories, visitors can learn and think about the music in a different way. These categories are introduced on the introduction panel and on the app.


Origins of Oppression


Hip hop was born out of the systematic oppression and repercussions of slavery, racism, violence, white supremacy, police brutality, racial inequality and so much more. These hip hop songs illustrate the frustration with the cultural and systematic issues at the time. Much of it seems
aggressive and profane, but the lyrics convey the genuine struggle many 
African Americans faced every day.


The Uprising


Hip hop had rough beginnings and harsh
push back, but it became a platform for which African American artists found their voices. Since they had been silenced for so long, hip hop became a powerful way to finally speak and be heard. Many artists began speaking against inequality, systematic issues, and these hip hop songs illustrate the beginning
of an uprising and revolution for peace, equality, change, and freedom.


Proclamations of Hope


Although hip hop still faced a lot of criticism and push back, it brought  many people together. In present times, hip hop has become a global phenomenon and it is publicized everywhere. In a sense, it has brought many hip hop pioneers to fame and fortune, but in another sense, it has brought more respect and human dignity to those who began the revolution. These songs illustrate the cry of triumph and victory that is found in hiphop and the journey to success.

Final Execution

Although the first several iterations and prototypes included only one element of installation and execution, the final solution includes 3 elements to present visitors with the fullest experience and immersion possible. After much contemplation and speaking with mentors, I landed here.

Installation​—Physical & Visual

Being the first element of this project, the installation serves as a physical and visual representation of the three categories that I found in hip hop. The form emphasizes the elements of hip hop as well as the rise and reign of hip hop through time.

Headphones—Audio & Music

Music was the second element that was added into the project that I was actually reluctant to include; However, in the end, it wasn’t until I myself experienced listening and reading lyrics at the same time that I found this element very powerful.

Mobile App—Augmented Reality


The TRACK app was the last element that was added in. In addition to the existent installation, the TRACK app gives visitors a deeper perspective of hip hop. It also is the place where visitors can listen to music and learn more about the lyrics.

To see the full development of the app, check out the TRACK app page.


The black vinyl type is meant to signify the weight and seriousness that the lyrics hold. Hip hop music is bold, heavy, and sometimes even harsh, but it needs to be seen and read.
A metallic polished gold was used to reflect the coveted possessions of jewelry and riches in the world of hip hop. Wealth was often flaunted both in hip hop music and culture.
Glass is used more practically as a space holder for the installation. Its transparent quality allows for the gallery space to be more contained, but not feel trapped.
Mirrors are utilized as a metaphorical element to encourage self reflection. Visitors are prompted to look into the mirror to evaluate their own thoughts, actions, and ideas.
The white leather is meant to be a contrast to the dark heavy type of the panel. A breath of fresh air.

Location, Location, Location!

As a nonprofit organization, SFMOMA holds an internationally recognized collection of modern and contemporary art, and was the first museum on the West Coast devoted solely to 20th-century art. The museum’s current collection includes over 33,000 works of painting, sculpture, photography, architecture, design, and media arts. SF MoMA is one of the largest in the United States overall, and one of the largest in the world for modern and contemporary art. 
The SFMoMA is the perfect location because of the crowd that it draws. When thinking about my space, I wanted to make sure a diverse crowd of people could access it and experience it. I specifically chose the Robert’s Family Gallery because of its accessibility. The gallery space is open and free to the public unlike the rest of the museum. This allows for the space to be accessible to a wide variety of people.

Top view of gallery space

Floor plans of the gallery space

Visitor Journey

Step 1: Intro Panel

Facing the stair case and the doors of the Roberts Family Gallery at SF MoMA, is the intro panel to the installation. This panel gives visitors an overview of the installation, what it is for, why it matters, and how to fully experience it. Headphones are provided to visitors for a full experience of both audio and visuals. The intro panel also encourages visitors to scan a QR code and download the TRACK app to further experience 
the installation at an AR level. Before walking to the other side of the panel, visitors are briefed with 3 categories of music that can be found in hip hop with corresponding colors.

Step 2: Transition

After reading and engaging with the intro panel, following the overhead golden pillars, visitors can then walk around to the other side of the panel where they can experience the audio and visuals. With Bluetooth capabilities, users can listen to the experience with easy access and range.

Step 3: Lyric Panel

The lyric panel features some key lyrics from a small selection of hip hop songs. The 3 categories that were introduced in the intro panel can be found in these hip hop lyrics and songs. Using the TRACK app, visitors can see the lyrics in their categories. By tapping and using the app, users can listen to the songs that are displayed on the panel. 

Step 4: Gold Pillars & Wire Forms

The 4 gold pillars and wire forms both foster a flow of space, but also represent important information. Although subtle and abstract, these two forms support the information and purpose of the installation. They also double as a photo op.
Although this project is hypothetical, you can still experience the music in real life! To listen to the playlist
of songs featured in this installation, click any of the following links to your preferred streaming service!

Installation Song List




Click on the image to see the full design documentation and process of the app. 

Click HERE to watch a video about how the app works!