With 2023 marking the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, the Roots rapper Black Thought has shared his own incredible love letter to rap music in collaboration with BET.
“This is a Love Letter to Hip-Hop for me because hip-hop is the love of my life,” Black Thought said in a statement to Rolling Stone. “No matter what medium that it is that you’re working in, if you’re painting a picture, if you’re writing a book, if you’re writing a song, those works of art that resonate the most are when you actually pour your true self into it.”
Part love letter, part Benny Boom-directed documentary, part hip-hop highlight reel, Black Thought skillfully delivers a nearly five-minute soliloquy charting the history of rap music, explaining how OG artists influenced today’s artists, name-checking the genre’s legends, and celebrating the art form itself.
“Extraordinary ethos / Takeoff from the Migos / to become entire ecosystems / It’s wild / to think about how long people have listened,” Tariq Trotter raps. “Now, 50 years down the line / we could spark this / my eternal beloved / hip-hop is where our hearts live.”
“I remember a time before hip hop and it’s something that we need to cherish and appreciate and not take for granted because it’s not guaranteed,” Black Thought added. “Even though it’s always been there for people for the past few generations, it’s not guaranteed that it’s going to always be there if we don’t, you know what I’m saying, treat it the way we’re supposed to and continue to pour ourselves and to invest into it in an authentic way.”
“Since its inception in 1973, Hip Hop is a driving force that continues to influence culture nationally and globally. Rooted in self-expression, its impact on music, fashion, art, and business is unmatched. BET is celebrating the genre’s tremendous contributions, legends, and future icons all year long,” Kimberly Paige, EVP and CMO of BET, said in a statement. “The powerful and mesmerizing message in Black Thought’s prose celebrates the origin of the Hip Hop movement and leaders who continue to express the power and diversity of the lived Black experience.”
Black Thought’s Roots bandmate Questlove similarly paid homage to hip-hop then and now as part of the star-studded 50th-anniversary celebration at the Grammys earlier this month.