Justina Villanueva

Product designer in NYC. Currently at Postlight. Previously a band photographer.


Year: 2018

Link: HipHopTimeline.xyz

Scope: Research & Design & Development

The Research

Around 2012 I created a database of MCs based off of a wikipedia page. Slowly, I added years, locations, links. I dug around YouTube and Discogs to confirm first singles. My primary goal was to answer: who was the first woman to rap and when did she start. One day I listened to a podcast with DJ Kool Herc and learned that hip hop started as a dance party to fund his little sister's back-to-school shopping. She created the flyer, spread the news, and he dj-ed the break beat. He started dj-ing more of these parties and the people who travelled with him, talking rhymes over his beats, would be the first rappers. Of these early rappers, three were women named MC Smiley, Peblee Poo and Sweet and Sour. This FASCINATES ME.

The Moodboard

In 2016, I created this site as part archive, part data visualization. That version is still out there. Even though I was proud to flex my d3.js muscles, I wanted to create something that was more fun, simple and easier to navigate. I started by collecting images for each decade. From these decade montages, I selected swatches of color to represent each year.

The UI

I knew I wanted to make a statement with color. The way I laid out the swatches in the moodboard gave me the idea for the landing page navigation. Plus, who doesn't love GIANT buttons! The next step for this project is for me to test meaningful ways to add album art and location data to each artist's profile.

You can check out HipHopTimeline.xyz for yourself.