Hosts Star-Studded House Party Commemorating 50th Anniversary of Hip Hop
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Vice President Kamala Harris celebrated the 50th anniversary of hip hop music on last Saturday, with a host of performing artists and more than 400 guests at her home.
“Hip hop is the ultimate American art form,” said Harris. “Born at a back-to-school party in the Bronx, raised on the streets of Philadelphia, Chicago, Oakland and Atlanta, hip hop now shapes nearly every aspect of America’s popular culture and it reflects the incredible diversity and ingenuity of the American people.”
Hip hop was created in New York City’s Bronx borough and for 50 years, it has helped highlight the experiences that Black, Brown and poor people face in America. It has often brought attention to instances of injustice and police brutality.
“To be clear, hip hop culture is America’s culture,” Harris said. “It is music and melody and rhyme. Hip hop is also an ethos of strength and self-determination; of ambition and aspiration; of pride, power and purpose. Hip hop is a declaration of identity. It says I love who I am. I represent where I come from, and I know where I’m going.”
Saturday’s celebration was a collaboration between the Recording Academy’s Black Music Collective and Live Nation Urban.
Saturday’s concert was in collaboration with Recording Academy’s Black Music Collective and Live Nation Urban. Artists Common, D-Nice, Omarion, Jeezy, MC Lyte, Roxanne Shante and many more were present for the celebration.
Meanwhile, Congressional Black Caucus members, including chairman Rep. Steven Horsford (D-Nev.), Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) and Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), as well as Maryland Gov. Wes Moore (D) were among the many noteworthy attendees spotted mingling and dancing among the crowds.
Comedian Deon Cole introduced Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason, Jr. at the start of Saturday’s remarks. He shared how hip hop has influenced his career: “Hip hop changed my world,” said Mason. “I was growing up in the 80s right when hip hop was bursting onto the scene. It was on the radio, it was on MTV, it was in magazines, it was in culture. It was everything that I love about the genre.”
Mason said he wasn’t alone and that hip hop has affected artists of all genres over the years. “Now 50 years later, there’s not a single genre that has not absorbed something essential from hip hop,” said Mason.
From Grandmaster Flash to Queen Latifah; from Lauryn Hill to Kendrick Lamar; Americans have made the genre a powerful, grass-roots mode of self-expression. These and other artists have helped hip hop expand from the streets of New York, to countries around the world — including far-off countries like Ghana, France, Japan and Brazil.
Still, hip hop has had its fair share of criticism over the years, with many often criticizing the genre as overtly sexual, violent or misogynistic.
But Harris addressed this in her remarks Saturday. “[Hip hop] has always channeled the voices of the people,” she said. “It tells the stories that don’t make the news. But as the great Chuck D once said, rap is black America’s CNN. And by telling the truth, hip hop calls us to action. It has always channeled the voices of the people. It tells the stories that don’t make the news,” Harris said before joining her husband, Douglas Emhoff, to watch the musicians’ performances.
“This is a hip-hop household!” Emhoff said.
“Half a century later, it is clear hip hop will not be erased. Hip hop is here to stay,” said Harris.
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Cheyanne M. Daniels filed the original version of this article.