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The Kennedy Center

Hip Hop Culture

With Hip Hop Culture serving as one of our nation’s greatest cultural assets and ambassadors, the Hip Hop Culture programs at the Kennedy Center recognize Hip Hop’s contributions to global culture and its power to build and transform communities through art and action. Through this programmatic platform, the Center aims to create a dynamic home for Hip Hop Culture and celebrate Hip Hop’s role as a catalyst for innovation, exploration, and transformation with a dynamic mix of performances, humanities events, film screenings, workshops and interactive experiences, in person and online. In 2016, the Kennedy Center appointed iconic rapper, producer, and DJ Q-Tip as its first Artistic Director of Hip Hop Culture, and in 2017, LL COOL J became the first Hip Hop artist ever awarded a Kennedy Center Honors. In 2018 the Center announced the founding members of its Hip Hop Culture Council.

This season we will not only continue to celebrate our history, but look to our future, highlighting powerful women, pivotal creatives, and events that capture the breadth and influence of the Culture today.

Dance Parties

A dance party series showcasing pioneer and leading DJs.

Film

A film series showcasing a diverse mix of documentary, classic, and contemporary films rooted in the Culture as well as works from Hip Hop generation filmmakers.

The Bridge

A concert series designed to showcase musical innovators in the Culture — past, present and future. The Bridge will be a mix of straight ahead performances, unique collaborations and one-of-a kind experiences, creating bridges between artists, audiences, and beyond.

Theater

A theater series featuring presentations by emerging, mid-career and established playwrights and directors who are creating work grounded in and pertinent to Hip Hop Culture. The theater series is also the DC home for Critical Breaks — a theater residency program that creates a development and presentation pipeline between NYC based Hi-ARTS and the Kennedy Center for theater artists who are in the pivotal phases of developing new work.

Hip Hop is our past, our present, and our future — a reflection of who we are as a people and a projection of what we might become. In our first year, we were trying to say, ‘Hip Hop has a home at the Kennedy Center.’ We introduced new audiences to new artists, celebrated pioneers, and threw some dope dance parties. Now in this second season, we’re going to build on that momentum and fortify our home, spotlighting powerful women, seminal creatives, and art that captures both the vernacular and the academic of the Culture today.

– Q-Tip, Artistic Director of Hip Hop Culture

Kennedy Center Hip Hop Culture Council

The Kennedy Center Hip Hop Culture Council (HHCC) is a dynamic community of high-profile visionaries who graciously lend their names, talent, expertise, and resources to a wide range of initiatives. Council members bring greater visibility to our programs by forging new pathways that deepen public knowledge and appreciation for Hip Hop Culture — all to help establish a home for creative projects that are strategically aligned with our institutional mission and vision.

Read more about the council

  • Questlove

    Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson
    Drummer, Co-Founder – The Roots, DJ, Producer, Author, Lecturer


    theroots.com

  • Beverly Bond

    Beverly Bond
    DJ and Founder of Black Girls Rock!
    *Member as of 2019


    blackgirlsrock.com

  • Big Boi

    Big Boi
    Rapper and Producer
    *Member as of 2019


    bigboi.com

  • Bobbito Garcia

    Bobbito García a.k.a Kool Bob Love
    DJ, Filmmaker, TV/Radio Personality, Author, and Ballplayer


    koolboblove.com

  • Common

    Common
    Emcee, Actor, Poet & Film Producer


    thinkcommon.com

  • DJ D-Nice

    D-Nice
    DJ & Photographer
    *Member as of 2019


    brandnice.com

  • Fab 5 Freddy

    Fab 5 Freddy
    Artist, Filmmaker, and Hip Hop Pioneer


    fab5freddy.com

  • Gina Belafonte

    Gina Belafonte
    Director, Activist, and Executive Director of Sankofa


    sankofa.org

  • Grandmaster Caz

    Grandmaster Caz
    Emcee, DJ, Historian, Hip Hop Culture Ambassador & Pioneer

  • Grant Hill

    Grant Hill
    Owner/Vice-Chairman Atlanta Hawks, TNT/ NBATV/ CBS Broadcaster, and seven-time NBA All-Star


    granthill.com

  • J. Period

    J.PERIOD
    DJ, Producer & Musical Storyteller


    JPERIOD.com

  • Jason King, Ph.D

    Jason King, Ph.D
    Associate Professor and Director of Global Studies, New York University's Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music


    jasonkingonline.com

  • Jayson Jackson

    Jayson Jackson
    Producer and Music Industry Veteran
    *Member as of 2019

  • Kierna Mayo

    Kierna Mayo
    Writer, Brand Architect, Media Visionary & Senior Vice President of Content and Brands at iOne Digital


    cassiuslife.com

  • Large Professor

    Large Professor
    Emcee, Producer, DJ

  • LL Cool J

    LL COOL J
    Emcee, Actor, Author, Entrepreneur, 2017 Kennedy Center Honoree


    llcoolj.com

  • MC Lyte

    MC Lyte
    Emcee, DJ, Actress, Entertainer, Speaker, and Philanthropist


    mclytenow.com

  • Pharoahe Monch

    Pharoahe Monch
    Emcee, Recording Artist, Producer

  • Mimi Valdes

    Mimi Valdés
    Film/TV Producer & Chief Creative Officer, i am OTHER Entertainment

  • Robert Glasper

    Robert Glasper
    Pianist, Composer, and Producer


    robertglasper.com

  • Black Thought

    Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter
    Emcee, Co-Founder – The Roots, Actor


    theroots.com

  • Xavier Jernigan

    Xavier "X" Jernigan
    Head of Cultural Partnerships, Shows & Editorial and Host of Showstopper for Spotify


    Listen on Spotify

  • 9th Wonder

    9th Wonder
    Producer, DJ, College Lecturer, and Social Activist

Upcoming Events


Eric Roberson

Sat, Jun 29, 2019

Grammy®- nominee, singer, songwriter, producer, and Howard University alum Eric Roberson continues to break boundaries as an independent artist in an industry dominated by major labels, manufactured sounds, and mainstream radio. Described as the original pioneer of the independent movement in R&B/Soul music, Eric has achieved major milestones in his career, from being a successful songwriter and producer for notable artists such as Jill Scott, Musiq Soulchild, Dwele, Vivian Green, and countless others to headlining sold-out tours across the country.

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