Hip Hop At 50: Holla If Ya Hear Me

Hip hop is an immersive, thriving cultural force and the most influential musical development of the last 50 years.

“Fight the Power” Released on the Album Fear of a Black Planet (1990)Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Public Enemy, “Fight the Power”

Hip hop has continually transformed itself and the world around it.  Musicians have long used music as a form of protest and a means of responding to the political, socioeconomic, and interpersonal issues that are important to their lives and their community.

Louis Jordan and His Tympany FiveRock & Roll Hall of Fame

Louis Jordan and His Tympany Five

Rooted in the storytelling of the blues, the jump and wail of R&B (like that popularized by Jordan), and the rebellious attitude of rock & roll – hip hop got its start in African American and Caribbean American dance clubs, discos, and block parties in the 1970s South Bronx.

Black Demonstrators Led by Robert E. Dubos (March 6, 1965)Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Black Demonstrators Attempt March to the Capitol

Hip hop was a way to inform and empower a community dealing with poverty, unemployment, police brutality and racism – serving as an echo of the messages of the Civil Rights Movement. But it was also a way to celebrate and take pride in that same community, and hip hop flourished!

Public Enemy (Chuck D, center) (1991) by Photographer Ernie Panicioli and Sony MusicRock & Roll Hall of Fame

Public Enemy (Chuck D, center)

Hip hop serves as a voice for the voiceless. As Public Enemy’s Chuck D tells us, the music was (and still is) “Black America’s CNN.” Hip hop can be fun, funky, and fierce and carries with it information about the experience of Black America, a story not told in mainstream media.

Hip Hop at 50: Holla If Ya Hear Me (2023) by Rock & Roll Hall of FameRock & Roll Hall of Fame

The need for music that inspires change – or even sparks revolution – has always existed. Hip hop just pumped up the volume and brought the noise.

Rock Hall EDU is the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame's online portal and resource guide for teachers and parents offering free lesson plans, artifact images, and materials, videos,  playlists, and writing prompts all designed by Rock Hall Education staff.

Rock Hall EDU celebrates the sound and experience of youth culture across generations with Hip Hop's 50th Anniversary Collection. Use this collection to explore some of the top hip hop names over the style's first 50 years, and then go beyond Inductees and seek the newer sounds of artists like Kendrick Lamar and Lizzo. Kick back and keep things old-school, and investigate how scratching, playing a song's break, dynamic lyrics, and keen business sense contributed to hip hop's unique sound.

Credits: Story

The Hip Hop At 50: Holla If Ya Hear Me exhibit opened at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame on June 30, 2023.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Explore more
Related theme
Beat by Beat
A short sampler of hip-hop history and culture
View theme
Google apps