As one of the most influential genres in music, the 50th anniversary of hip-hop continues to be celebrated a month after the anniversary of its official birth, with further events planned for the rest of the year. This week brought appearances and performances from big names in music, media, and even politics with celebrations in the US and UK.
Taking the Stage at the VMAs
Starting with last night’s MTV VMAs show, the hip-hop tribute saw performances from the show’s host, Nicki Minaj – a leader in the female impact on hip-hop. She evidenced the longevity of her career performing ‘Itty Bitty Piggy’ from her 2009 mixtape, as well as recent hit ‘Red Ruby Da Sleeze’. Another icon in the modern age of hip-hop, Nicki handed over to her own mentor within the industry, Lil Wayne, who performed one of his greatest hits ‘A Milli’, with LL Cool J following up with ‘Mama Said Knock You Out’ to an energetic crowd.
Representing for the early era of genre, the hip-hop pioneering group, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, opened the performance with ‘The Message’ – a song credited with moving hip-hop from just party music to having socially-conscious lyrics. Closing the night, DMC (Darryl McDaniels) performed Run-DMC’s cover of ‘Walk This Way’ with all the artists joining him on stage to end the star-studded show.
Recognising the Cultural Impact
Last weekend brought out even more hip-hop legends with celebrations taking place at the official residence of Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris. Acknowledging hip-hop’s huge influence on American culture, Remy Ma, Fat Joe, Common, Doug E. Fresh, Slick Rick, and more gathered to celebrate the genre’s impact.
London also joined in commemorations with Youtube’s Legacy Party celebrating the impact on Black British culture. Held at the Royal Opera House, the night revelled in performances from British icons such as Ms Dynamite. The Legacy Party also awarded its inaugural Legacy Award to Koby ‘Posty’ Hagan for his contributions to the culture as the founder of the UK’s biggest music media outlet, GRM Daily.
Remembering the Origins
Hip-hop’s 50th anniversary is remembered on August 11th this year as it was on this day in 1973 that Jamaican-born DJ Kool Herc isolated the break in songs – the most danceable parts – and repeated them creating the technique of breakbeat DJing. He also incorporated a Jamaican influence of toasting (talking over the beat) – a style pioneered by U-Roy – which later evolved into the MC culture we know now.
The numerous celebrations taking place evidence the genre’s popularity and influence on the Western world. With further performances set to take place this year in honour of the anniversary, it is astounding to look at how far the genre has come in its 50 years of invention.