Vice President Kamala Harris celebrated the 50th anniversary of hip hop on Saturday with a host of artists and more than 400 guests at her home.
In the first of its kind celebration, Harris addressed the impact the genre has had on the world and its importance to the Black community.
“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 commemoration 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 spotted mingling and dancing among the crowds as well.
Comedian Deon Cole introduced Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. at the start of Saturday’s remarks.
Mason shared how hip hop has influenced his career over the years.
“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.
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.”
From Grandmaster Flash to Queen Latifah and Lauryn Hill to Kendrick Lamar, Harris said, “generations of hip hop artists helped to elevate the collective conscience through their voices.”
And those 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 is clear hip hop will not be erased. Hip hop is here to stay,” said Harris.
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