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 program at the Kennedy Center recognizes 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.

Serving as the inaugural curatorial season from Artistic Director and Advisor at Large Q-Tip, the 2017-2018 Hip Hop Culture Season celebrates the early beginnings of the Culture while recognizing its vital and transformative role in contemporary society.

In The Beginning

A dance party series showcasing pioneers and leading DJs as they share their distinct voices and sonic interpretations of the beginnings of Hip Hop.


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.

Critical Breaks

A theater residency program that creates a development and presentation pipeline between NYC based Curator in Residence Hi-ARTS and the Kennedy Center for theater artists who are in the pivotal phases of developing new work. In addition to Critical Breaks, we will also feature special theatrical presentations as part of the Hip Hop Culture Season.

With Hip Hop constantly changing and evolving, it is easy to forget the history and legacy that preceded it. I want to begin at the beginning of the culture and help people see its roots, better understand its present, and responsibly create its future.

– Q-Tip, Artistic Director of Hip Hop Culture

Here's a sonic introduction to the 2017-2018 Hip Hop Culture Season. Listen Now!


Upcoming Events

Critical Breaks Reading Series: Chasing Mehserle 

Mar 9 - Mar 10, 2018

This captivating performance piece examines race, class, gender, and privilege through the lens of a fictional character as he processes the real-life murder of Oscar Grant.

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Wild Style 35th Anniversary Film Screening, Discussion & Demo 

Fri, Mar 16, 2018, 7:00 PM

Experience the rise of early Hip Hop as documented by Wild Style, often considered Hip Hop's first motion picture, with a special screening, discussion, and demo in celebration of the 35th anniversary of the New Directors/New Film screening.

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In the Beginning Dance Party: Wild Style Dance Party featuring Grand Wizard Theodore & Grandmaster Caz 

Fri, Mar 16, 2018, 9:00 PM

Join a dance party led by legendary DJs Grand Wizard Theodore and Grandmaster Caz in celebration of the 35th anniversary of the New Directors/New Film screening of Wild Style. Free, no tickets required!

August Greene

Thu, Mar 29, 2018, 8:00 PM

The perfect marriage of jazz, Hip Hop, and soul, August Greene is the newly formed supergroup featuring emcee Common, pianist and composer Robert Glasper, and percussionist and producer Karriem Riggins.

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Between the World and Me 

Sat, Apr 7, 2018, 8:00 PM

Experience Ta-Nehisi Coates's book Between the World and Me with a live performance event weaving together excerpted selections, interactive visual storytelling, and newly composed music. Featured on the New York Times best-seller list, Between the World and Me offers a powerful framework for understanding our nation’s history and current crisis.

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