VH1 Recognizes the Power of Hip-Hop

Music originating from African Americans produces a subculturereflecting their social, political, and economic conditions. About 80 years ago, America was introduced to the power of”Jazz.”  Despite its controversy, its music and culturelingers on. Today it is hip-hop.  Controversy and all, hip-hopis here to stay.

In October 2003, hip-hop filled the entire top10 of the Billboard Hot 100 for the first time since the chartbegan 45 years ago.

Now, VH1 has decided to make, ‘VH1 Hip HopHonors,’ its inaugural salute to hip-hop dignitaries, an annualevent.  The show, which took place in New York, recentlypremiered on VH1.

The ‘VH1 Hip Hop Honors’ celebrated–DJHollywood, DJ Kool Herc, KRS-One, Public Enemy, Rock Steady Crew,Run DMC, Sugarhill Gang, Tupac Shakur, and The GraffitiMovement—the players responsible for turning hip hop into atrue cultural phenomenon.  The graffiti movement was singledout as hip-hop culture.

A committee of VH1 executives and hip-hoptastemakers selected the honorees.  Vivica A. Fox and MC Lytehosted the event, while Nas, MC Hammer, Fat Joe and Terror Squad,Grandmaster Flash, Kid Rock, and other rappers performed tributesto hip hop icons.

Nas paid tribute to Shakur with ‘KeepYa Head Up.’  As a tribute to Run-DMC, the Beastie Boys andDoug E. Fresh performed “Sucker MCs.”

Fat Joe and Grandmaster Flash performed “SouthBronx” in a tribute to KRS-One.

The show ended with a medley of “Good Times”and “Rapper’s Delight.”

Hip-hop sprung out of New York’s South Bronxover 25 years ago.  The music of hip-hop came alive withlyrics, turntables, and microphones protesting poverty andinjustice.  Signature works of pioneers such as GrandmasterFlash & the Furious Five’s “The Message” and Public Enemy’s “ItTakes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back” established rap as anew form of protest art.

Hip-hop is a lifestyle that changesfrequently.  Today hip-hop, a billion dollar industry, haspeople from all spectrums of society following its music andlifestyle.

Stars like Missy Elliot and Fat Joe areselling soda, Mary J. Blidge and Lil’ Kim are endorsing cosmetics,rappers like Mos Def and Queen Latifah are Hollywood actors, whileclothing lines like Sean John and Roca Wear are multimillion dollarcompanies.  People in the city and suburbs are using slanglike ‘bling-bling’ and ‘fo shizzle.’

Hip-hop has come a long way.  “Everyonein the world with a radio has been touched by hip hop and very soonevery hip hop community in the world has a voice,” said TobeIfeanyi, a student at Coppin State University, Maryland.

“Hip hop has become the most visible voice forblack culture and it’s definitely changing the broader socialculture,” said professor of African American studies, S. CraigWatkins, of the University of Texas, Austin.

One can’t help but wonder what the futureholds.  “In the future America may just produce the firstblack president from the hip hop generation,” says Lolu Obe asenior at Morgan State University, Maryland.