Vice President Kamala Harris celebrated the 50th anniversary of hip-hop on Saturday with over 400 guests and a lineup of artists at her home. In this unique celebration, Harris acknowledged the profound impact of hip-hop on the world and its significance within the Black community.
Harris emphasized that hip-hop is the ultimate American art form, originating at a back-to-school party in the Bronx and growing to shape various aspects of American popular culture. It represents the diversity and creativity of the American people and has been instrumental in highlighting the experiences of Black, Brown, and disadvantaged communities. Hip-hop has often drawn attention to issues like injustice and police brutality.
“To be clear, hip-hop culture is America’s culture,” Harris declared. “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.”
The commemoration event was a collaboration with the Recording Academy’s Black Music Collective and Live Nation Urban, featuring artists like Common, D-Nice, Omarion, Jeezy, MC Lyte, Roxanne Shante, and many more. Members of the Congressional Black Caucus, including Rep. Steven Horsford, Rep. Cori Bush, and Sen. Raphael Warnock, as well as Maryland Gov. Wes Moore, were seen mingling and dancing in the crowd.
Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. spoke about how hip-hop had a profound impact on his career, transforming the music and entertainment landscape. He highlighted that hip-hop’s influence extends across various genres, with artists from different backgrounds drawing inspiration from it.
Despite its criticisms over the years for themes of sexuality, violence, and misogyny, Harris acknowledged that hip-hop has always channeled the voices of the people and told stories that often go unreported. She quoted Chuck D, who referred to rap as “black America’s CNN,” emphasizing how hip-hop calls people to action by speaking the truth.
Harris also recognized the enduring legacy of hip-hop, from pioneers like Grandmaster Flash to icons like Queen Latifah, Lauryn Hill, and Kendrick Lamar. She noted how hip-hop has transcended its origins in New York to become a global phenomenon, influencing cultures in countries such as Ghana, France, Japan, and Brazil.
“Half a century later, it is clear hip-hop will not be erased. Hip-hop is here to stay,” Harris concluded, celebrating the genre’s enduring impact and cultural significance.