Hip-hop legends celebrate the genre’s 50th anniversary
Thursday, Feb 08, 2024
• Cristal Gonzalez : contact
Two icons from the “golden age” of hip-hop visited The University of Texas at Arlington to celebrate 50 years of the genre. Big Daddy Kane and DJ 9th Wonder delivered the keynote address and a masterclass on DJ-ing, respectively, during the Center for African American Studies’ (CAAS) 12th annual conference on Feb. 7.
“Back in the ’80s and ’90s, you had hip-hop artists who were battling people in the neighborhood to try to get rocking at block parties and night clubs. That’s when hip-hop was only a culture,” Kane said. “Now, hip-hop is not only a music genre, it’s the biggest music genre. It’s a lot different now.”
Joining Kane onstage were Jason Shelton, CAAS director, and Kane’s former publicist, Eugene Shelton Jr. The trio discussed Kane’s career, the hip-hop scene during its “golden age” and the differences in hip-hop music between then and now.
“We’re celebrating hip-hop, and we’re blessed to be here with one of the greatest lyricists of all time, the legendary Big Daddy Kane,” said Shelton as he introduced Kane to the stage. “I want you to learn about hip-hop before today and the art of MC-ing from a legend.”
MTV ranked Big Daddy Kane as the seventh greatest MC of all time and Billboard Magazine named his song “Ain’t No Half Stepping” as the 25th greatest hip-hop song. He has worked with artists like Biz Markie, Barry White, 2Pac, Jay-Z and many more.
Following his first studio album, Long Live the Kane, Kane said he realized more than just Black teenagers liked hip-hop, and he had to broaden what he was doing to try to reach different generations.
“I wanted to really reach everyone other than just thinking about what’s around and what I’ve seen. Of course, I still wanted to do that because I had a message and felt I had an obligation to the hood to be their voice,” said Kane. “But I also wanted to reach out and show other people that I hear you, too—I see you, I acknowledge you.”
Toward the end of Kane’s keynote, Arlington City Council Member Nikkie Hunter made a proclamation declaring Feb. 7 as Big Daddy Kane Day.
To wrap up the conference, DJ 9th Wonder held a masterclass on the art of DJ-ing. DJ 9th Wonder is a Grammy Award-winning producer known for his work with Jay-Z, Mary J. Blige, Destiny’s Child and many more.
Torin and Monica White, community members from Grand Prairie, were in attendance during Kane’s keynote. They both said they grew up with hip-hop.
“Hip-hop is important in my life because it’s my life story. It’s how I grew up,” said Torin White. “It’s how I’ve raised my kids, what’s played in my home and how we live.”
“It was uplifting and informative,” said Monica White. “It just made me feel warm inside—it’s hip-hop.”