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“Q-Tip joins the Kennedy Center as its first-ever Artistic Director for Hip Hop Culture”

by Prince Of Petworth March 9, 2016 at 9:45 am 18 Comments

Photo by flickr user CN

Represent, represent!!

From a press release:

“The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts announced today the launch of its inaugural Hip Hop Culture series in the 2016–2017 season. This new programmatic platform recognizes Hip Hop’s contributions to global culture and its role in promoting values such as courage, freedom, justice, and service—principles that are part of the Center’s John F. Kennedy Centennial Celebration. A national and international phenomenon, Hip Hop culture authentically promotes these values through five core elements—deejaying, emceeing, breakdancing, graffiti writing, and knowledge of self—carrying with them the power to build and transform communities through art and action. With this new offering, the Center also aims to increase opportunities for community involvement and participation within its programs.

“We are proud and excited to be incorporating Hip Hop Culture into our artistic and educational programs during the 2016–2017 season,” affirmed Deborah F. Rutter, President of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. “In our role as a national cultural institution, we feel it is vital to recognize all of the performing arts in our programming. 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. By launching this series, we strive to spotlight these powerful traits through each program and to make them part of the Kennedy Center fabric as we look into the future.”

To lead the Hip Hop Culture season, MC/rapper and record producer Q-Tip joins the Kennedy Center as its first-ever Artistic Director for Hip Hop Culture. An active member of Universal Zulu Nation, the first Hip Hop organization which was founded in the 1970s by Afrika Bambaataa, Q-Tip embodies the multifaceted nature of the culture with a history of seminal work and longstanding relevance in the community.

“With Hip Hop constantly changing and evolving, it is easy to forget the history and legacy that precede it,” stated Q-Tip, Kennedy Center Artistic Director for Hip Hop Culture. “I want to begin at the beginning of the Culture to help people see its roots, better understand its present, and responsibly create its future.”

Famously known as a founder and member of the group A Tribe Called Quest, Q-Tip is regarded as a pioneer of the genre who paved the way for younger Hip Hop artists by introducing jazzy, eclectic soundscapes into Hip Hop production and a new degree of originality to the art of emceeing. Through his role in A Tribe Called Quest in the ’80s and ’90s, he became one of the most influential Hip Hop figures of all-time, uniquely fusing rap, jazz, and other styles with piercing, socially conscious lyrics. He also has enjoyed success as a solo artist and producer, working with such high profile Hip Hop and R&B acts as the Beastie Boys, Busta Rhymes, J. Dilla, Janet Jackson, Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, Mary J. Blige, Queen Latifah, and Pharrell Williams. His critically praised solo albums include Amplified, the Grammy®-nominated The Renaissance, and Kamaal the Abstract. Q-Tip is currently the host of Apple Music’s Abstract Radio, a weekly Friday radio show where he digs deep into underground favorites and musical legends.

Q-Tip’s artistic innovation and exploration continue through his work as a recording artist and producer of music and film, an actor, DJ, curator, advocate, and organizer of Hip Hop Culture. He brings his expertise in the industry to curate a full season of Hip Hop across disciplines, transforming the performing arts center into a home for Hip Hop Culture and history for years to come.”

  • Clueless

    I love this announcement. The Kennedy Center has been needing a refresh (for its millennial audience) for a while and this is a great start.

    • mm

      Right. Because only millennials like hip hop.

      • Clueless

        My b; should have stuck in operative keyword *mainly*.

  • jcm

    Q-Tip is a great choice for this, but it’s weird they don’t mention any actual programming in this announcement. It’s par for the course, though. The opera announcement didn’t list any casts or even say whose production they are staging. And they didn’t send out an email announcing the season, either. It’s a really bad way to publicize things.

    • skj84

      I got the season announcement email this morning. And the full season is posted on the Kennedy Center’s website. As for casting or productions with the Opera, they may not be set yet.

      • jcm

        I assume I’ll get the email today, but why didn’t they send it on the day of the announcement? And the Post’s story about the announcement actually has more details than the Kennedy Center’s website: Amanda Majewski in Figaro, Kate Lindsey in Dead Man Walking, Jun Kaneko’s Butterfly production. The website doesn’t even list the composer of the new hour long opera, “The Dictator’s Wife” (it’s Mohammed Fairouz). Don’t get me wrong, I’m pretty excited about the season. I’m really looking forward to Brownlee in Fille du Regiment, and I’m happy to have two operas I’ve never heard or seen, but the PR is just odd.

  • skj84

    I am stoked about the KenCen entire season, but especially this. I love they are recognizing Hip Hop as a legit musical form. Some of the comments on the Facebook page suggest some people need to let thier preconceived notions of Hip Hop go.

  • banananonymous

    Lol, how many people said no to this before they got to Q-Tip?

    • Truxton Thomas

      Q-Tip seems like a pretty good choice for this. Who did you have in mind?

  • Anonymous hip hop fan

    “Back In the Days On the Boulevard of Linden…”

    Love Q Tip (and Tribe) as the choice; thoughtful guy, rapper (solo / group), producer and you need some name recognition with multiple generations of hip-hop fans. There are other good candidates (DMC? KRS One? Hammer…kidding) but none I can think of who would clearly be better.

    • MarkQ

      Gawd.. glad is wasn’t KRS One. His pontificating, bloviating is wearisome; programming would have been stuck in time..

      • Anonymous hip hop fan

        KRS can be a bit much, but I am sure he made the candidate list. Guru (RIP) would have been great, DJ Premier? I would have loved to have served on this search committee.

    • jcm

      You need someone who is a credible musician, really knows the history of the genre, has been popular and famous for long enough for older donors to have heard and enjoyed him, and probably not so active now that he would be unwilling to take the job, and not too controversial. Some possibilities:
      Questlove – too busy.
      Jay Z – too rich
      Chuck D – too black, too strong
      Maybe someone from De La? or RZA? or Nas? or Rakim? I think Q-Tip is a good choice though.

      • textdoc


  • MarkQ

    The photo… love it. Nice job POPville!

  • v

    This is the best ever

  • That One Guy

    So there’ll be graffiti featured at the Kennedy Center? Hahaha.

  • 90deeez

    At least we know he will get the job done!


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