The Recording Academy is continuing to honor the legacy of hip-hop, to one of the most popular genres of music in America. Held on Dec. 4 at the GRAMMY Museum in downtown Los Angeles, Resonance: Celebrating 50 Years of Hip-Hop was presented by the Academy's Black Music Collective and sponsored by City National Bank.
The Resonance event took over the Museum's fourth floor, which is home to the recently unveiled "Hip Hop America: The Mixtape Exhibit." There, members and leadership from the Academy and BMC, along with musicians and industry professionals, celebrated 50 years of music that has transcended boundaries, inspired advocacy and fostered impactful social change.
Guests were welcomed into the space by an unparalleled collection of artifacts — an ode to the genre through memorabilia and interactive displays showcasing the evolution of hip-hop music and culture. Tupac’s all-white suit — worn in the last video he made — is displayed next to Notorious B.I.G.'s red leather pea jacket worn in the music video for Junior M.A.F.I.A.’s "Players Anthem." The impact of the museum’s intentionally curated collection evokes the extended struggle of the Black experience in America, while celebrating its culture, creativity, and endurance against all odds.
The power of connection and representation was emphasized by five-time GRAMMY winner Jimmy Jam, an R&B songwriter, music producer, and illustrious GRAMMY Museum Board Member. "The idea of 'resonance' struck a chord in me because the mission is unification, amplification and to celebrate Black music. Nothing resonates more in our everyday lives than hip-hop."
A legendary figure who made his mark in the '80s by producing artists such as Janet Jackson, Jimmy Jam and producing partner Terry Lewis, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2022.
"I'm proud to have known my partner Terry Lewis for 50 years. We were raised on hip-hop," he told the crowd. "Hip-hop inspires, it embodies transcendence. Hip-hop advocates and fosters social change, and the cultural significance is astounding."
Jimmy Jam highlighted the integral role of partnerships between the Black Music Collective and sponsor/supporters such as City National Bank and Amazon Music. Such relationships have enabled the third year of the Amazon Music-sponsored Your Future Is Now, a scholarship program.
"We have the opportunity to pour knowledge, resources and many opportunities into the young talent and the young creatives of the future. And that's what we're here to do," he continued.
GRAMMY Museum Board Member and Executive Vice President of City National Bank, Linda Duncombe, who was introduced by Jimmy Jam as "music’s best friend" spoke to the critical work of support.
"We protect and celebrate those who have shared their gift as well as ensure their artistic contributions are accessible for people of all walks of life around the world and for future generations," she said, adding that as a Museum board member, "educating the next generation of artists and teachers is always top of mind. The 'Mixtape Exhibit' really will inspire students to pursue hip hop and the music industry."
Host Lady London, a rapper and songwriter from The Bronx summed up the power of hip-hop and its ability to transcend music. A hyped crowd enthusiastically received her words.
"It's beautiful to see what we have been able to cultivate in such a short amount of time. We are the culture, we have the power to shift the culture and we continue to move mountains," she said. "We are influences in fashion and design and the Black family education, economic empowerment, the arts. We're limitless.
"We have balanced everything and there is nothing that is quite parallel to that," Lady London continued. "I'm so proud to be a part of the culture."
As guests mingled among the exhibits many displays and highlights like original lyric sketches, mixtapes, and an interactive "sonic playground" where guests could interact with recording devices, make 808 beats and record tracks. Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. reflected on the culmination of a year celebrating the 50th anniversary of hip-hop.
"Hip hop has been a defining force in our culture and it is so important to be able to honor it in this way" he said. "This is the end of a year that started with us celebrating at our GRAMMY Awards show last season."
Los Angeles' DJ Jadaboo — who has performed for Tommy Hilfiger at New York Fashion Week and a slew of celebrity parties and high profile events — set the vibe all night. Her mix spanned all five decades of the genre and beyond, from R&B to hip hop classics by Jay-Z and Drake, stacking much-sampled songs like Curtis Mayfield’s "Pusher Man" into the set.
As the event carried on, Jimmy Jam’s earlier remarks echoed between the museum’s walls. "Look at what's been done in the last 50 years. You see it all around here," he said. "Now take a look at each other and know all that is happening right now… is because we are the people that are gonna continue to carry this on for another 50 years."
The GRAMMY Museum’s "Hip Hop America: The Mixtape Exhibit" runs through Sept. 4, 2024. "A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop" will air Sunday, Dec. 10, from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. ET and 8 to 10 p.m. PT on the CBS Television Network, and stream live and on demand on Paramount+.
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