Vice President Kamala Harris celebrated hip-hop’s 50th anniversary on Saturday with a group of artists and more than 400 guests at her home.
In the first celebration of its kind, Harris addressed the genre’s impact on the world and its importance to the black community.
“Hip-hop is the ultimate American art form,” Harris said. “Born at a back-to-school party in the Bronx, raised in the streets of Philadelphia, Chicago, Oakland, and Atlanta, hip-hop now shapes nearly every aspect of American popular culture and reflects the amazing diversity and creativity of the American people.”
Originating in the Bronx in New York City, hip-hop music has for 50 years helped highlight the experiences faced by black, brown, and poor people in America. He has often drawn attention to instances of injustice and police brutality.
“To be clear, hip-hop culture is America’s culture,” Harris said. “It’s music, melody and rhyme. Hip-hop is also a spirit of strength and self-determination. Of ambition and aspiration. Of pride, strength 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 was commemorated in collaboration with the Recording Academy’s Black Music Ensemble and Live Nation Urban. Artists Common, D-Nice, Omarion, Jeezy, MC Lyte, Roxanne Shante and many more were present at the celebration.
Meanwhile, members of the Congressional Black Caucus including Chairman Rep. Stephen Horsford (D-Nev.), Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.), and Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Georgia), as well as Maryland Governor Wes Moore (Democrat from Georgia). d) They were seen mingling and dancing among the crowds as well.
Comedian Dion Cole introduced Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. at the start of Saturday’s remarks.
Mason shared how hip-hop music has influenced his career over the years.
“Hip-hop changed my world,” Mason said. “I grew up in the ’80s when hip-hop came on the scene. It was on the radio, it was on MTV, it was in magazines, it was in the culture. It was everything I loved about the genre.”
Mason said he was not alone and that hip-hop has influenced artists of all genres over the years.
“Now 50 years later, there’s not a single genre that hasn’t absorbed something essential from hip-hop,” Mason said.
However, hip-hop has received its fair share of criticism over the years, with many criticizing the genre as being overtly sexual, violent, or misogynistic.
But Harris addressed this issue in her remarks on Saturday.
“[Hip hop] “She always channeled people’s voices,” she said. “He tells the stories that don’t make the news. But as the great Chuck D once said, rap is black America’s CNN. By telling the truth, hip-hop calls us to action.”
From Grandmaster Flash to Queen Latifah and Lauryn Hill to Kendrick Lamar, “generations of hip-hop artists have helped lift the collective conscience through their voices,” Harris said.
These artists have expanded from the streets of New York to countries around the world including Ghana, France, Japan and Brazil.
“Half a century later, it’s clear that hip-hop is not going to be erased. Hip-hop is here to stay,” Harris said.
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