Hip-Hop is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. While the genre is one of the youngest, it is not short on its impact on the culture.
The genre originated in the early ’70s in New York in African-American communities in the Bronx. There are several aspects to hip-hop in regard to music making, such as rap, djing, and freestyling. Those created other avenues in the art form, such as breakdancing and graffiti art.
Hip-hop has been in the mainstream in ways that were never thought possible by its early adopters of the craft.
“When we started on this journey decades ago, we were often told, ‘No’. No, you won’t be able to leave New Jersey. No, if you rap, you can’t sing. No, singers can’t become actresses. No, actors can’t also produce,” Queen Latifah said to Entertainment Weekly in a statement as she is set to become the first female rap artist to be celebrated at the Kennedy Center Honors.
“To now be recognized amongst so many multi-hyphenates feels unbelievable, not for just me and my team, but for our community. The work the Kennedy Center does is immeasurable so I’m beyond grateful for this recognition.”
Throughout this year, hip-hop has been celebrated in performances by some of the greats. At the 2023 BET Awards, there were performances by MC Lyte, Big Daddy Kane, The Sugarhill Gang, D-Nice, Warren G, Yo-Yo, Trick Daddy, Trina, Uncle Luke, Redman, Erick Sermon, and Keith Murray — also known as “Def Squad,” and more highlighted rap on Culture’s Biggest Night.
Earlier this year, Questlove curated a hip-hop tribute at the 2023 Grammy Awards where Missy Elliott, Run DMC, Salt n Pepa, Public Enemy, Grandmaster Flash, Ice-T, Queen Latifah, Busta Rhymes with Spliff Star, Nelly, GloRilla, Lil Baby, and more took to the stage.
If you have been a fan since the beginning or you’ve just begun listening, you’ll learn more from these projects. Take a look at five documentaries on these hip-hop artists: