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Hip Hop 50


DJ EFN on which current artists will be remembered in 2073
DJ EFN (Credit: Adrian “@drainflix” Enningham)

Chuck D once famously called hip-hop the CNN of the Black community, the way people got the news. Is it still? 

Being Latino, my point of view was that it informed me about both our communities and underserved communities at large. From my perspective, I do feel it is still doing that but not with the same vigor, depth, and integrity it did before, but then again, hip-hop has grown so large that we can easily lose focus on those doing it.

The writing is literally on the wall. Graffiti has always been at the forefront of broadcasting the news in one way or another. Also, like it or not, the drill artists are blatantly speaking their truth at a heavy cost. Again, I feel it’s such a large field now that I know there’s incredible artists from all the elements pushing and reporting, but they may be unknown to me or the next person. I feel that artists like Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole most definitely uphold that, and we can’t discount the OG’s like Public Enemy, Nas, or Jay-Z, who are still active and reporting.

Fifty years ago, hip-hop started a revolution, not just in music but in fashion, film, TV, art. Is another revolution possible now? 

I think the revolution for hip-hop is international. Hip-hop has literally sparked revolutions in some countries in recent decades. The global impact and how it shapes the world is the new revolution, in my opinion.

Fifty years from now, in 2073, who will people still be talking about from hip-hop 2023? Who will have a lasting impact?

I think all those mentioned above along with the Kanyes, Pharrells, Bustas, and Lil’ Waynes will be forever solidified in music history. But beyond them, we need to make sure we elevate the world-renowned b-boys, b-girls, DJs, and graffiti artists so that the entire culture is properly reflected 50 years from now. 

Looking back over the last 50 years, who is an unsung hero, someone who made a big impact on hip-hop who doesn’t get credit? 

There’s so many that it’s too many to mention. All I can say is the unsung heroes of hip-hop are the forgotten pioneers, along with all the practitioners of the elements that make up hip-hop. Because without all the elements, there is no hip-hop, and rap alone isn’t hip-hop. Hip-hop is generational now with generational and regional perspectives, but we can’t allow hip-hop history or the vital components that make up hip-hop to be forgotten. 

Interview by Kyle Eustice