“Born in Bronx and raised across the American West and South, hip-hop is one of the most influential genres of music in the modern era,” said Kevin Young, the Andrew W. Mellon Director of NMAAHC. “Through beats, dynamic rhymes and pointed lyricism, hip-hop has provided a platform for communities and generations to voice their ongoing struggles and has changed society and culture around the world.”
In hip-hop’s early years, some critics refused to acknowledge the art form as music, dismissing it instead as unoriginal and uncreative. As a result, hip-hop spent its first decade of growth as a niche genre that much of the music industry assumed would burn out in a short time. Now, as hip-hop nears its 50th anniversary, it is the most popular musical genre in the U.S., with notable influence and impact in all aspects of American culture. Arguably one of the last music counter cultures, hip-hop is instrumental in shaping and narrating the stories of America’s inner cities.