American Art Is Finally Taking Rap Seriously

The Kennedy Center has named Q-Tip as the head of its new, long overdue Hip-Hop Culture Council.

The Kennedy Center has named Q-Tip as the head of its new, long overdue Hip-Hop Culture Council.

Lawrence Burney

On Wednesday morning, nationally-renowned arts institution, The Kennedy Center, announced that it now has a Hip-Hop Culture Council. In a video that the venue posted along with the announcement, rap pioneer and member of A Tribe Called Quest, Q-Tip, was named the council's artistic director and advisor-at-large. Considering that The Kennedy Center is one of the nation's most respected institutions for the arts, It's long overdue that the country's most popular genre be recognized for its cultural relevance.

Hip-hop was officially born in 1973 and has proven to be one of the US's biggest cultural exports, but is still regularly disregarded by major institutions in the country. In February of 2017, JAY-Z became the first rapper to be inducted into Songwriters Hall of Fame. Jay took to Twitter a few days later to look back on when rap was not widely respected. "By the way, this is a win for US," he tweeted. "I remember when rap was said to be a fad. We are now alongside some of the greatest writers in history." It seems that institutions that are praised for preserving and highlighting the country's best artistic forms is finally recognizing that they'll be on the wrong side of history if they continue to ignore a genre that gives the bulk of our youth a way to express themselves.

The Q-Tip-led council includes members like Questlove and Black Thought of The Roots, MC Lyte, Bobbito Garcia, Fab 5 Freddy, and more. Events like film screenings, live performances, and dance parties that will kick off the hip-hop programming. In many cases, rap fans tend to express extreme excitement when artists like Jay, Kendrick Lamar, or Kanye West are recognized by institutions that have not been accepting of the genre, but after 44 years of existence, it's time for these instances to be normalized. We shouldn't have to wait until Migos, Nicki Minaj, Drake, and others are well into their 40s to be given their proper due.

"When you look at any organization, you can't run it by yourself. You need people you can dialogue with and exchange and build with," Q-Tip said in the announcement video. "Hip-hop in its DNA is about the collaboration. Whether it be the collaboration between the DJ and emcee, or five emcees." Watch Tip's introduction of the Hip Hop Culture Council above and visit the website here.

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