Kamala Harris: “Hip-hop Is the Ultimate American Art Form”

The Vice President hosted an event celebrating hip-hop's 50th anniversary with Lil Wayne, Common, and MC Lyte

Kamala Harris, photo by Johnny Nunez/WireImage

    Vice President Kamala Harris presided over a star-studded event celebrating the 50th anniversary of hip-hop at the VP’s official residence in Washington, DC on Saturday including performances from Lil Wayne, Common, and MC Lyte.

    The historic “50 Years of Hip-Hop” occasion, co-sponsored by the Recording Academy’s Black Music Collective and Live Nation Urban, was acknowledged as the “first-ever hip-hop house party at the Office of the Vice President of the United States” by Harris, who delivered opening remarks before ceding MC duties to comedian Deon Cole.

    “Hip-hop is the ultimate American art form,” the Vice President proclaimed in her welcome speech. “Hip-hop now shapes nearly every aspect of America’s popular culture, and it reflects the incredible diversity and ingenuity of the American people. It combines rhythms from the continent of Africa, from the Caribbean, from Latin America, with the sounds of soul and gospel and R&B and funk to create something entirely new.”


    “And to be clear, hip-hop culture is America’s culture,” she added. “It tells the stories that don’t make the news. But as the great Chuck D once said, rap is Black America’s CNN. And by telling the truth, hip-hop calls us to action.”

    Harris also bragged about her hip-hop bonafides, from knowing all the words to The Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” to treasuring her Too $hort bootleg tapes while attending D.C.’s Howard University. Later in the afternoon, the rapper from her hometown of Oakland performed “Blow the Whistle” to the event’s 400 guests.

    The artist lineup resembled a top-tier festival slate that spanned all generations of the genre including Slick Rick and Doug E. Fresh, DJ D-Nice, MC Lyte, Common, Fat Joe, Jeezy, Remy Ma, and Saba. D.C.-area natives Wale and the Black Alley Band were on-hand to represent for local talent.


    Lil Wayne served as the event’s closer, performing hits like “A Milli,” “The Motto,” “Uproar,” and “6 Foot 7 Foot.” He also made a potentially political nod to Harris’ past as a district attorney and attorney general in California with the inclusion of his 2008 single, “Mrs. Officer,” but also paid his respects by telling the crowd, “I appreciate this. My mom appreciates this too.”

    Elsewhere, Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff told attendees, “This is a hip-hop household!”

    Check out more of Consequence’s coverage of Hip-Hop’s 50th anniversary here.