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Celebrate Hip-Hop’s 50th Birthday With These Concerts, Exhibits, and Events

Hip-hop turns 50 on Aug. 11, and it seems that the whole world is celebrating. From concerts organized by Amazon and Mass Appeal to block parties put on by New York City, the festivities are plentiful. There is also a wide range of exhibits and galleries curated by artists of the hip-hop generation. It would be impossible to reference every single event happening for rap’s birthday, but here’s a list of notable Hip-Hop 50-related events happening this August.

Amazon Music: 50 & Forever: New York (through Aug. 10)
Rotation, the Hip-Hop and R&B brand of Amazon Music, has been celebrating Hip-Hop 50 all summer with their 50 & Forever series, where artists like Rick Ross, Wale, Clipse, Joey Bada$$, Curren$y, and more have performed at New York City’s Pier 17. On Aug. 3 , Amazon Music did a City Session performance in Atlanta where Young Jeezy, T.I., and Young Dro took the stage. The last 50 & Forever show will feature Ja Rule on Aug. 10. 

NYC SummerStage: New York (ongoing)
The Capital One City Parks Foundation SummerStage is one of New York’s longest-running summer event series. They’ve been celebrating Hip-Hop 50 with several events, including a Grandmaster Flash block party and a Hip-Hop 50 Special Edition show at the Coney Island amphitheater featuring acts like Nice N Smooth, Special Ed, Buckshot of Black Moon, Masta Ace, CL Smooth, and Rah Digga. On August 11th, they’ll be hosting an event in Staten Island’s Stapleton Projects featuring a performance by Wu-Tang’s Raekwon, DJ Sets, two rap battles, and live graffiti. 

Faawud: Jamaican Sound System Culture’s Official Hip-Hop 50th Celebration: New York (Aug. 10) 
The super conglomerate of Rock the Bells, Bowery Presents, Impulse Nation, Kool Herc Productions, King Addies, and the Jamaica Music Conference are coming together to celebrate not just Hip-Hop 50, but the 40th anniversary of King Addies and the 10th anniversary of the Jamaica Music Conference at Webster Hall on Aug. 10. Many hip-hop fans might not be knowledgeable of the West Indian and sound system influence in hip-hop’s genesis, but those attending this celebration will be made well aware. 

BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn: Brooklyn (Aug. 11 and 12)
BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! festival will be honoring Hip-Hop 50 with a pair of shows on Aug. 11 and 12 at Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. On the 11th, there will be a performance by Digable Planets, Kari Faux, and Wiki. And on the 12th, there will be a screening of cult classic Brown Sugar, a celebration of women in hip-hop with April Walker, and a DJ set by Quinette. 

Hip-Hop 50 Live: The Bronx (Aug. 11)
Mass Appeal teamed up with Live Nation, Major League Baseball, and Audible for Hip-Hop 50 Live, a mammoth concert where dozens of hip-hop legends will perform at Yankee Stadium. The event, which will be live-streamed, boasts performances from Run-D.M.C. (billed as “bottom of the 9th…The Walk Off”), Snoop Dogg, Lil Wayne, Lil Kim, Eve, and many more.  

Masters of the Mic Hip-Hop 50 (various locations and dates) 
Rap icons Big Daddy Kane, Rakim, KRS-One, Doug E. Fresh, and Slick Rick have been on an eight-city Masters of the Mic Tour (supported by special guests like EPMD, Roxanne Shante, DJ Spinderella, and more). On Aug. 17, they’ll be at Vienna, Virginia’s Wolf Trap. On the 18th they’ll be in Portsmouth, Virginia, and on the 19th, they’ll be in Wilmington, North Carolina. The tour also has later dates beyond August. 

San Jose Jazz Summer Fest: San Jose, California (Aug. 11-13)
This weekend, the San Jose Jazz Fest will have a second stage devoted to a Hip-Hop 50 celebration, with performances by Murs, Needle to the Groove DJs Allen Johnson, Dave Ma, & Michael Basura, and many more. 

Live Tribute to the 50th Anniversary of Hip Hop!: Las Vegas (Aug. 11)
On Aug. 11, Las Vegas’ Clark County Library will be holding a Live Tribute to Hip-Hop 50, with DJ sets and dancers from the Sound Steps Rhythm Dance Company celebrating Hip-Hop 50.

It’s All Black Music has been throwing 5X5 (five decades, five boroughs) block parties throughout New York City. On Aug. 11, they’ll be having one in Staten Island. On the 12th, they’re heading to 1520 Sedgwick Avenue, widely celebrated as the birthplace of hip-hop. And on the 13th, they’ll stay uptown in Harlem.

Down south, Boom Bap Atlanta and The Hype Magazine are celebrating Hip-Hop 50 with a three-day celebration at Atlanta’s Piedmont Park, in connection with the BeREGGAE Music & Arts Festival Weekend. Aug. 11’s celebration will double as the Hype Magazine 21st anniversary party. Aug. 12 will feature a Native Tongues Tribute, and Aug. 13 is devoted to “Beats & Lyrics & Flow & Substance,” according to Hype Magazine. 

Here are some more Hip-Hop 50 block parties and celebrations happening:

Universal Hip-Hop Museum’s Hip Hop’s 50th Birthday Jam: Bronx, New York (Aug. 11)

Hip-Hop 50th Anniversary Celebration: Honoring the Culture: Oakland, California (Aug. 11)

National African American History Museum Hip-Hop Block Party: Washington, D.C. (Aug. 12)

Hip-Hop 50 Celebration: Dallas (Aug. 12) 

Hip-Hop Til Infinity: New York 
Mass Appeal’s Hip Hop Til Infinity exhibit, on display at New York’s Hall Des Lumieres, aims to “transport guests through Hip Hop’s different eras and regions – from the skate parks to the stage, to the metaverse,” according to their site. The graphics for the immersive exhibit were crafted by Superbien. The exhibit is on display until Sept. 17. 

The Culture: Hip Hop & Contemporary Art in the 21st Century: St. Louis
The Culture: Hip Hop & Contemporary Art in the 21st Century was curated by Asma Naeem, Andrea Purnell, Gamynne Guillotte, and Hannah Klemm with Ricky Bird and Carlin Thomas serving as curatorial assistants. The museum exhibit, consisting solely of work by POC artists, features paintings, photography, ceramics, and other pieces celebrating artists like Tupac, Notorious B.I.G, and Cardi B. The exhibit was previously on display at the Baltimore Museum of Art; it opens next at the St. Louis Art Museum on Aug. 19 (with a celebratory block party) and run until Jan. 1, 2024, after which it will head to Germany, Cincinnati, and Canada. 

Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: Celebrating 50 Years of Hip Hop: Albany, New York
New York’s state capital is honoring Hip-Hop 50 with its Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: Celebrating 50 Years of Hip Hop, an Albany Center Gallery exhibit curated by upstate New York-area artists such as Robert Cooper, Truemaster, and BoogieRez. The exhibit will be running until Sept. 2. 


50 Years Of Hip-Hop: New York and Los Angeles
The Morrison Hotel Gallery will be holding a dual celebration for their 50 Years of Hip-Hop exhibit on Aug. 12. The show, co-curated by Queen Latifah and Whoopi Goldberg, will include two-hour bicoastal events at the gallery’s Soho, NYC, and West Hollywood locations. 

Oakland Public Library: Hip-Hop Turns 50 Reading List: Oakland, California
The Oakland Public Library decided to celebrate Hip-Hop 50 with a reading list. Their diverse selection includes self-authored work from Tupac, Questlove, and Raekwon, as well as Hanif Abdurraqib’s Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to A Tribe Called Quest and Clover Hope’s The Motherlode: 100+ Women Who Made Hip-Hop

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