As hip-hop music continues to seep into the fabric of America in so many brilliant ways, more and more cultural institutions are developing departments devoted to the genre created by Black men in the 1970s. The Kennedy Center is next up.
This week, the Washington-DC based performing arts center named Q-Tip, rapper, producer and founding member of pioneering rap group A Tribe Called Quest, artistic director of Hip-Hop Culture at the Kennedy Center.
The title is the first-ever held at the Center.
Q-Tip will establish a dynamic, new program that will stretch across all disciplines, bringing the historic roots, contemporary expressions, and transformative power of Hip Hop to the [Kennedy] Center and local and national audiences, Kennedy Center officials said in a recent press release.
Born Jonathan Davis in 1970, Q-tip was born in Harlem, grew up in Queens, and co-founded A Tribe Called Quest along with Phife Dawg, Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Jarobi White in 1985. Known for infusing jazz into their songs, Tribe released five albums together and was affiliated with other top acts including the Jungle Brothers and De La Soul. Their unique style garnered titles such as “the most intelligent, artistic rap group during the 1990s,” from music critics.
Later, Q-tip embarked on a solo career. In 2012, he was named #20 on The Sources list of Top 50 Lyricists of All Time.
In his new role, he will be responsible for curating the Centers Hip Hop Culture Series which will explore the culture across deejaying, emceeing, breakdancing, graffiti writing, and knowledge of self.
With Hip Hop constantly changing and evolving, it is easy to forget the history and legacy that precede it, Q-Tip said in a press release. I want to begin at the beginning of the Culture to help people see its roots, better understand its present, and responsibly create its future.
According to Billboard, he will also be working with the visual arts organization Hi-ARTS, which has been collaborating with the Kennedy Center for the past 15 years in developing the DC Hip Hop Theater Festival as well as co-producing the Center’s One Mic: Hip Hop Culture Worldwide festival.