50 Years Strong: Hip Hop’s Milestone Celebrations in 2023
“You never thought that hip-hop would take it this far” – Notorious B.I.G.
Hip-hop was born back in the 1970s in the Bronx borough of New York. With the help of DJ Kool Herc, dated August 11th, 1973, the genre made its official debut and expanded into four segments: DJing, graffiti, breakdancing, and MCing. This year, in 2023, hip hop celebrated its 50th birthday, commemorating all of the amazing years of being a cultural movement and transforming the world in groundbreaking ways. Acknowledging the monumental milestone, events, concerts, festivals, and even award shows have paid their respects to the worldwide impact hip hop has had over the past five decades.
Grammy Awards Hip-Hop 50 Medley
To kick off the celebration, the Recording Academy honored hip-hop at the 2023 Grammy Awards with the Hip Hop-50 medley. The 15-minute performance featured over two dozen hip-hop artists spanning within its 50 years. Curated by Questlove of the Roots and narrated by LL Cool J and Black Thought, the performance brought extreme gratification to hip-hop lovers. “For five decades, hip-hop has not only been a defining force in music, but a major influence on our culture,” said Harvey Mason jr., CEO of the Recording Academy.
The Book of HOV
This immersive experience can be found in the Brooklyn Public Library on one of the borough’s most profound rappers, Jay-Z. Laid out over two floors in the library, The Book of HOV, which Roc Nation curated, exhibited archived exclusive images, art, and collectibles from Jay’s life and career, detailing his rise to fame and success.
Rock The Bells Festival
With acts such as Run DMC, Queen Latifah, Ludacris, Salt-n-Pepa, MC Lyte, and Lost Boyz, this event surely rocked the stadium. On August 5th, LL Cool J, The Roots, and DJ Z-Trip made sure to highlight those who helped shape the world of hip hop. “We’ve made it a priority to honor hip-hop culture! This is a celebration for artists who paved the way and the legions of fans around the world throughout hip-hop’s 50th anniversary year,” Rock The Bells President James Cuthbert stated.
Hip Hop 50 Live at Yankee Stadium
A grand celebration of rap music with a lineup full of hip hop legends turned out Yankee Stadium in the Bronx on hip hop’s birthday, August 11th. The concert featured sets including “Queens of Hip Hop” with Lil Kim, Eve, Remy Ma, and Trina, “Pillars of Hip Hop” with The Sugarhill Gang, Kurtis Blow, Melle Mel, DJ Kool Herc, and so many other notorious guests. This show was a true representation of hip hop’s 50 years. One of the highlights of the show was Nas bringing out the legendary and majestic Lauryn Hill.
Hip Hop Forever 50th Anniversary Concert
Hip-hop took over the legendary Madison Square Garden with an all-star tribute hosted by HOT 97 and WBLS, curated by Funk Flex. Mary. J Blige, The Wu-Tang Clan, Sean Paul, EPMD Maxwell, and Jadakiss were some of the few that hit the “Forever 50th” stage.
Kamala Harris’ Hip-Hop 50th Anniversary Event
Vice President Kamala Harris did not let hip-hop go unnoticed in the White House. “Hip-hop culture is American culture,” Harris told those who attended. “This is a hip-hop household!” Kamala’s husband, Doug Emhoff, shared. Some of hip hop’s top artists, Lil Wayne, Slick Rick, Fat Joe, Doug E. Fresh, Common, and MC Lyte, attended what Harris referred to as “the first-ever hip hop house party at the Office.”
Block Party at 1520 Sedgwick Ave.
The official address of where hip hop was born in the Bronx on August 11th. Public Enemy, Talib Kweli, and KRS-One headlined a block party where hip hop pioneers The Sugarhill Gang, Flavor Flav, Grandmaster Flash, the Furious Five and Public Enemy performed. Back in 1973, DJ Kool Herc, known as the Father of Hip Hop, threw a party mixing records, which created a significant beginning in a movement we now refer to as hip hop.
MTV Unplugged Presents: A Hip-Hop 50th Celebration of Jersey’s Finest
On December 14th, closing out 2023, MTV celebrated hip hop’s 50th anniversary with an exclusive to their MTV Unplugged franchise. Executively produced by hip hop legend herself, Queen Latifah performed for the TV special alongside fellow Jersey rappers Naughty By Nature, The Sugarhill Gang, Heather B, Redman, and Wyclef Jean. According to Billboard, the show provided a space for pivotal hip-hop artists from New Jersey to receive their flowers.