The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C. has announced the inauguration of its Hip Hop Culture Council, and the names are nothing short of heavyweights. According to the center’s Medium page, the council is comprised of Hip Hop luminaries from across various elements of the culture.
Those announced include: The Roots’ Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson and Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter, Common, 9th Wonder, LL Cool J, Pharoahe Monch, MC Lyte, Large Professor, Robert Glasper, Bobbito Garcia, Fab 5 Freddy, Grandmaster Caz, Grant Hill, J.Period, Jason King, Kierna Mayo, Mimi Valdés, and Xavier “X” Jernigan.
The Kennedy Center’s newest initiative is designed to further the public’s knowledge about Hip-Hop culture through live events and movie screenings, among other activities. “The Kennedy Center’s Hip Hop Culture Council reflects the creative, social, and intellectual wealth of the Hip-Hop community,” Q-Tip, Artistic Director of Hip Hop Culture, said in a statement. “The members are the embodiment of what we stand for and all that we aspire to achieve with the Hip Hop Culture program.”
“Being invited to be a founding member of the Hip Hop Culture Council bears a ton of responsibility,” Bobbito Garcia said in a statement. “We will ensure that there is no compromise to the art form and that it is presented in all its wonder and beauty for all to enjoy.”
Two years ago, The Kennedy Center appointed Q-Tip as its first Artistic Director of Hip Hop Culture and since, Hip Hop has been one of the institution’s main focuses. Last month, Nas performed Illmatic with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center. In November of last year, the Performing Arts Center announced several concerts featuring a multitude of 1970s and ’80s Rap pioneers called “The Bridge Series,” involving greats like Kool Moe Dee, Kurtis Blow, Spoonie Gee, and platinum-selling group Whodini.
LL Cool J was already recognized by the Kennedy Center. They named him their first Hip Hop honoree among other greats in acting and music such as James Brown, Oprah Winfrey, and Robert Deniro.
Many of those announced as new members of the Kennedy Center’s Hip Hop Culture Council have a background in teaching or pushing the culture forward outside of music. 9th Wonder has employed Hip-Hop pedagogy at numerous American universities and is a Harvard fellow while Common has used Hip-Hop as a sounding board for political and cultural change. All members have in some way gone above and beyond their profession to make Hip-Hop more prolific.
“We are thrilled to be collaborating with such an extraordinary group of icons, innovators, and contributors to the Culture,” Simone Eccleston, Director of Hip Hop Culture and Contemporary Music, said in a statement. “Q-Tip is deeply invested in creating a brain trust to advance and expand our work. As we continue to build the complex ecosystem that supports this program, the Council becomes an integral piece in sustaining Hip Hop’s presence at the Center.”
Upcoming events at The Kennedy Center related to the culture include a March 16 screening of Wild Style, followed by a Q&A session at the Terrace Theater. Bobbito Garcia will also be showing his film ROCK RUBBER 45s, an autobiographical take on the mesh of rap and basketball sneaker culture. On April 7, a monologue-style event called Between The World and Me will take place where artists interpret different literary works of art and how they portray Black struggle in American history.