“Hip-Hop Is the Ultimate American Art Form”

Kamala Harris invited some of rap’s top artists, from Lil Wayne to Slick Rick, to perform on Saturday at her home in Washington, D.C., for what she called “the first-ever hip-hop house party at the Office of the Vice President of the United States.”

Harris celebrated the 50th anniversary of hip-hop from a stage built on her lawn with a guest list of rap luminaries, including Common, Doug E. Fresh, MC Lyte and Fat Joe.

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“Hip-hop is the ultimate American art form,” Harris told the audience. “Hip-hop now shapes nearly every aspect of America’s popular culture, and it reflects the incredible diversity and ingenuity of the American people. It combines rhythms from the continent of Africa, from the Caribbean, from Latin America, with the sounds of soul and gospel and R&B and funk to create something entirely new.”

“And to be clear, hip-hop culture is America’s culture,” she continued. “It is a genre. It is music and melody and rhyme. And hip-hop is also an ethos of strength and self-determination, of ambition and aspiration, of pride, power and purpose.”

Harris, who was born in Oakland, California, said she grew up listening to hip-hop music, knowing each word to the classic hit “Rapper’s Delight” and also blasting albums by fellow Oaklander Too Short — who performed Saturday — during her college years at Howard University.

“And why did we all love our hip-hop so much? Well, one reason is it speaks truth, raw, unfiltered, without apology,” Harris said onstage.

The vice president danced alongside her husband, Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, who joked about his old nickname being Doug E. Fresh. Emhoff then pointed out that the real Doug E. Fresh was set to perform at the event.

Lil Wayne closed the multi-hour concert with a performance of his hits “A Milli,” “Mrs. Officer” and “Uproar.” He thanked Harris and the White House for inviting him. “I appreciate this. My mom appreciates this too,” he said.

Harris partnered with the Recording Academy’s Black Music Collective and Live Nation Urban to put on the commemoration, which marked the first time a sitting vice president has hosted a celebration of this kind. More than 400 guests attended, including Jennifer Hudson, Gina Prince-Bythewood, Yvette Nicole Brown, Roland Martin, Jesse Collins, Tamika Mallory and Recording Academy CEO and president Harvey Mason Jr., who introduced Harris to the stage. Actor-comedian Deon Cole hosted the event.

Other performers Saturday included Jeezy, Remy Ma, D-Nice, Wale, Black Alley Band and Saba.

Mesfin Fekadu contributed to this report.

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