11 August 1973 is a special day for those who live, breathe and study a genre of music that is currently the most profitable style of music in the world, as it is the day Hip-Hop was born. A genre of music that has since its inception captivated people with its use of the breakbeat to deliver heartfelt and raw experiences through rhythmic-influenced poetry. From its beginnings in the Bronx 50 years ago to its first incarnation here at home in the 1980s, Hip-Hop continues to be a vessel used by people of all ages as healing as well as providing a safe haven for those who are marginalised and voiceless.
It is no secret that Hip-Hop loves Hennesy with the alcoholic beverage being name-dropped in 2500 songs from the genre with rappers such 2Pac, Dej Loaf, Snoop Dogg and Baby Tate making use of the word with some, like Tshego, even having a song dedicated to it. Noticing this, Hennessy has long affiliated itself with the genre and has taken it a step further in commemoration of Hip-Hop’s 50 Years of existence. In celebration of this milestone, they collaborated with a legendary MC who was born a month after the genre was birthed, Nas, on a limited edition Very Special bottle, which is tattooed in orange handwritten texts from the rapper’s letter to his beloved Hip-Hop.
10 years after the birth of Hip-Hop, it migrated to South Africa, settling in the Cape, but unlike the migrants of the 1700s, the genre would uplift the youth of Cape Town with DJ Ready D along with the Prophets of the City preaching the messages of community building, the living conditions of their people and other socio-economic issues, which were prevalent in the country in the 80s, which they laced between the cryptic lyrics of their music. Four decades later, surrounded by his peers, as well as the new generation of Hip-Hop, he was given his flowers by Hennessy as they gifted him an illustration of his career.
Remaining in a celebratory spirit, Hennessy South Africa curated an event at Museum Africa, the home of the South African Hip-Hop Museum, which sought not only to have people interact with their new product, but was also a celebration of South African Hip-Hop and the role it has played across the country in various communities from the township, city and suburbs. Being a celebration, Hennesy ensured that those who were craving a party were not disappointed with performances by A-Reece, Moozlie, Stogie T and mixes by DJ Ready D, Uncle Partytime and a surprise set by Amu, which had all the OGs out of the shadows straight to the dancefloor as they went bar for bar with every lyric from the music they enjoyed in their youth.
In recent years, the genre has been undergoing a mid-life crisis, some feel it began in 2016, as the new generation seeks to carve their own path, which has left a lot of the older members of the community feeling that their beloved genre is being watered down. To music that is fixated on being part of playlists and charting on Billboard rather than maturing with the listener like the artists of yesteryear. This internal friction has surfaced to the top with the genre not holding as prominent a position as it has in previous years as well as many of the pioneers of the current generation attempting to include other genres/styles in the genre (cue the rappers turned Amapiano artists and Whole Lotta Red chats). Whatever side you fall on in these conversations, the genre continues to do what it was created to do, which is provide people with a voice for them to galvanise those around them to bring change and once the change has been achieved, to teach the young of their history, as well as provide them with information on how to maneuver the new world.
Hip-Hop is the modern-day equivalent of communal gatherings, which were centered around song and dance that our ancestors had. It is a genre that will continue to attract not only listeners but brands as the people who contribute to the culture continue to illustrate how cool it is to be Black through their musical and cultural outputs. Here’s to the next 50 years and more.
Ke Hip-Hop dawg!