Maybe you heard, maybe you didn’t, but this month is officially National Hip Hop History Month. The United States will commemorate its inaugural observance of the holiday this month, which is a win for the culture and the forefathers of the art. “Hip Hop is my life. Hip Hop saved my life. Hip Hop gave me knowledge of self. Hip Hop is who I am,” Congressman Jamaal Bowman declared. “The celebration of Hip Hop history and the study of it is essential to our democracy, our innovation, our voice, and who we are as human beings.”
The whole thing got us to thinking about which moments in this year would be considered Hip Hop History. Here’s four moments from 2021 that we think will go down in the record books and (Hopefully) kid’s textbooks in the future
When 50 hit the earth like a missile in the early 2000’s the game was never the same. While he’s no longer the supernova he once was in the booth, he’s pivoted to television and delivered on some great moments this year. As a Jamaica Queens native, I came into Raising Kanan with suspicion of whether he’d get it right, and he passed my assessment with flying colors. To top that off, he followed the show up with another banger in BMF. The show tells the iconic story of the Black Mafia Story with entertaining characters, and direction. The best part about it is that Big Meech is portrayed by his son Lil Meech, and the role is done justice. It’s not 2003 no more, but 50’s TV run is comparable to his rule over Hip Hop back then.
At this point, there’s nothing to say about Drake and Kanye that hasn’t already been said. Regardless of how you feel about the actual music that they produced, you gotta admit that we haven’t seen two artists face off like this since Kanye took on 50 in the mid 2000s. Countless moments were added to the culture that we’ll never forget. Kanye’s rollout alone should be on this list for how insane it was. In the end, the two each dropped a polarizing project that broke records and had us all talking. Definitely a moment to remember in Hip Hop.
The Kendrick hype has been heating up all year and with his headlining performance at Day N Vegas’, it reached a boiling point. His artful performance featured very little talking breaks or filler, it was all theatrics, choreography and bars. The best part was that it wasn’t catered to his new fans either. He came out with cuts from his 2011 tape “Section 80” and performed several more from the acclaimed project, while eventually mixing in some of his more popular stuff. The performance felt like the beginning of a new era for Kendrick, one that we’re all prepared to experience in real time.
When Verzuz first popped off during the pandemic, the concept was simple: Two artists presented their classic tracks over IG Live, each sharing dope stories and behind the scenes info throughout. As folks began to come back outside, Verzuz only grew in popularity, sponsors and revenue. At one point, it seemed like corporate interests might get in the way of the dope Hip Hop culture they had been pushing. Those concerns were stomped out (With Timberlands) by the incredible battle of Dipset vs The Lox. It was a night of pure Hip Hop in Madison Square Garden. Dipset manned the stage with their unquestioned swagger and did their thing, but it was the rugged lyricism of The Lox that stole the show. With everything from freestyles to classics, The Lox dismantled Dipset, while calling them out for not rapping their songs live. It was arguably the moment of the year for the culture.