Hip-Hop is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. While the genre is one of the youngest, its impact has been massive. The genre originated in the early ’70s in New York in African-American communities in the Bronx. Hip-hop starts with the music: rapping, DJing, and freestyling. But those elements led to others, including breakdancing and graffiti art.
Hip-hop has been in the mainstream in ways that its founders never would have dreamed.
“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. 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. That led to a summer tour featuring the Roots and LL Cool J where they were joined by different hip-hop legends at each stop on the tour.
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: