Last week it was announced that Q-Tip had been appointed as the first Artistic Director for Hip-Hop Culture at the Kennedy Centre in New York City.
The move was described as a “proud and exciting” moment by centre director Deborah F. Ruttler, who added that “The history of hip-hop and its development as an art form, and the complexity and importance of its impact on the arts landscape driving social and cultural awareness, has inspired us to have a more formal connection with our ongoing programming.”
Q-Tip himself was unable to attend the press conference that heralded the announcement, but has since released a video statement outlining the importance and relevance of hip-hop in 21st century culture.
The video begins with the rapper proclaiming that his appointment “couldn’t have come at a better time… nationally,” expressing concern over “issues of racism, issues of misogyny and issues of classism.”
Q-Tip then categorises hip-hop as an antidote for the “ills of the world”, stating that “Over the past 40 years, it (hip-hop) has been one of the most influential forms of art (to come) out of the African-American community, but it’s also the prevailing energy of culture around the world…that beat…is what we are gonna get connected to at the Kennedy Centre.”
Watch the full video below.
The recognition of hip-hop at the Kennedy Centre is just another mark of what has already been a hugely significant year for hip-hop culturally.
In a year in which racial injustice has been at the forefront of American politics, the release of Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly was a landmark moment in the history of hip-hop, with the songs of the record coming to symbolise the message of the Black Lives Matter movement.
The introduction of the annual Hip-hop Education Centre (HHEC) Extra Credit Awards, coinciding with the launch of the ‘We The People For Hip-hop Education’ movement, which requested that the Obama administration recognise hip-hop as an American cultural treasure worthy of being taught and practised in state high schools nationwide, were also key moments for the genre in 2015, both for the music and greater American culture.
One can only assume that Q-Tip’s appointment at the Kennedy Centre will help the movement to continue to grow and flourish throughout 2016.
View the full program for the Kennedy Centre 2016-2017 season here.