Showtime is giving Hip-Hop its flowers with Hip Hop 50, the network’s massive programming series celebrating the genre’s five-decade anniversary. Beginning in December, Showtime will air Hip Hop 50 over the course of the next three years, with the final installments in the series arriving in 2023—50 years after DJ Kool Herc’s Back-To-School party at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx. Rap legend Nas and Mass Appeal CCO and Emmy-nominated director Sacha Jenkins (Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men) are spearheading the initiative, which will also include documentaries, podcasts, digital shorts, and other unscripted content.
Nas spoke with Variety about his desire to help commemorate Hip-Hop’s milestone year in grand fashion, as well as what viewers can expect from the programming.
“There are so many more stories,” the rap vet said of the topics and events highlighted in Hip Hop 50 will highlight. “I’m opening up with this, but ‘Hip Hop 50’ is a multi-tier initiative, created by Mass Appeal [in partnership with CBS Viacom], and we built this platform to ensure the anniversary of hip-hop is celebrated in a real iconic way, and that everybody should be involved with this. This is something that’s coming up that we don’t want to just pass by like it’s small. This is the biggest birthday in the world. You’re going to see the stories from every element of hip-hop, whether it’s the street stories, whether it’s the MCing. Whatever it is, we want to celebrate and push this birthday party to the max.”
Among the programs slated to air on Showtime as part of Hip Hop 50 is Video Music Box, a documentary on the history of Ralph “Uncle Ralph” McDaniels and the longest-running music television platform for rap visuals to date. “Hits From the Bong,” examines the role West Coast rap group Cypress Hill played in marijuana advocacy and serving as representatives for Latin Americans in the culture. “Rolling Like Thunder” gives a crash course on the graffiti subculture that swept over New York City during the ’70s through the ’90s; while “Push It” highlights the contributions of women in hip-hop.
Watch the trailer for Hip Hop 50 below.