On Friday, January 26, Professor Marcyliena Morgan and The Hiphop Archive and Research Institute (HARI) were featured on PBS NewsHour as part of the ongoing series “Race Matters Solutions” with Special Correspondent Charlayne Hunter-Gault. The segment, titled “How the U.S. became the hiphop nation,” centered on the history and growth of hiphop from the streets to Harvard and the Grammys.
According to the 2017 Neilsen Music ratings, hiphop is now the most popular musical genre in the United States. At the 60th Annual Grammy Awards, hiphop’s domination across categories was unprecedented, representing two of the five nominations for the three top awards: album of the year, song of the year and record of the year. Fifteen hiphop artists in total were nominated for Grammys. Jay-Z and Kendrick Lamar topped the list with a combined fifteen nominations. Rapsody was the only woman nominated for Best Rap Album, making her the 5th female nominee ever in the 23-year history of the category. If a hiphop album won Album of the Year, it would have been the first to do so since 2004 and only the third time in Grammy history.
What the Neilsen ratings and Grammy Awards fail to see is that Hiphop music has been a mainstay of American popular culture for nearly 50 years, developing from what appeared to be a ‘moment’ into a movement. Today it continues to be supported, protected and scrutinized by those who created it. In the process, hiphop has become an uncompromising prism for critique, social and political analysis and representation of marginalized and underrepresented communities throughout the world. In the words of Professor Morgan,
Hiphop’s message is to build. It comes from not being prejudiced, not seeing race, but seeing the content of the character, right? That is what really hip-hop is focused on. It’s who are you really? Do you know who you are? Do you know where you’re from? The culture is supporting you. It’s believing in you. It’s here because of you.
HARI’s mission is to facilitate and encourage the pursuit of knowledge, art, culture and responsible leadership through hiphop. We are uncompromising in our commitment to build and support intellectually challenging and innovative scholarship that both reflects the rigor and achievement of performance in Hiphop as well as transforms our thinking and our lives.
The day after the Grammys, PBS NewsHour hosted a Twitter chat on hiphop and diversity at the awards with HARI and Washington Post Pop Music Critic Chris Richards. Check out the conversation here.
For further information please contact:
The Hiphop Archive and Research Institute
104 Mount Auburn Street, 3R
Cambridge, MA 02138