Showtime has unleashed the first trailer for Hip Hop 50—a multiyear program initiative that celebrates the culture’s 50th anniversary.
Presented in collaboration with Mass Appeal, the cross-platform series is led by Nassir “Nas” Jones and celebrated filmmaker/producer Sacha Jenkins. Variety reports the programming will include scripted shows, digital shorts, podcasts, and documentary films, all of which will explore key figures and chapters within hip-hop’s rich history. The content will include Estevan Oriol’s Cypress Hill documentary Hits From the Bong; Joshe Swade’s Ricky Powell: The Individualist about the legendary hip-hop photographer; Roger Gastman’s Rolling Like Thunder, which explores the graffiti subculture in NYC; and Push It, a documentary about women’s ongoing contributions to the hip-hop landscape.
“Women were there from day one, and as we know, women are marginalized in our society. In hip-hop, in some regards, they haven’t always had their fair shake as well,” Jenkins said. “To have the opportunity to have women tell their own stories about their trials and successes, we feel is very important. It’s not about men saying, ‘This is what the hip-hop experience was’ for women. It’s about women having the opportunity to tell their stories and speak their minds and truths.”
Although there is some debate about when hip-hop started, many point to a South Bronx birthday party hosted DJ Kool Herc. The event, which Herc threw for his sister Cindy, took place on Aug. 11, 1973, years before the term “hip-hop” made into the mainstream lexicon.
“’73 marks the party that Kool Herc threw for his sister in the basement of a building in the Bronx,” Jenkins said. “‘77 definitely put a battery in some people’s backs who didn’t have the equipment. Still, a little before people were out in the parks, proto-hip-hop was happening as early as ’73, and that’s what is going to commemorate this 50th anniversary in 2023.”
Nas said the initiative will provide an expansive look at hip-hop culture, and showcase perspectives from both old-school figures as well as the younger generation of artists.
“Without the new eyes and new ways to visualize the culture, then it’s not going to be complete,” Nas said. “It has to be everyone that loves the culture, that can tell the story, that can really show through their work where we’re headed and why we’re headed there. The new voices are the new stories, and you have to have the beginning and the ‘now’ … 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.”
Hip Hop 50 will kick off on Showtime later this year and will continue until 2023. You can check out its trailer above.