Showtime is celebrating the 50th anniversary of hip hop music into a multi-year, cross-platform programming initiative called Hip Hop 50, in collaboration with entertainment company Mass Appeal.
Hip Hop 50 will span unscripted series and features, podcasts and digital shorts by and about some of the most well-known names in the genre. The initiative is driven by Mass Appeal partner Nasir “Nas” Jones and chief creative officer and partner Sacha Jenkins, who was writer, director and producer of the Emmy and Peabody-nominated Showtime series Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men.
The programming will begin airing later this year and continue over the next three years, culminating with the 50th anniversary of the genre in 2023. The announcement was made by Vinnie Malhotra, executive vice president, nonfiction programming at Showtime Networks Inc.
“Hip Hop 50 will be an unprecedented multi-platform experience that is going to be absolutely essential, not only as a celebration of the genre but also as a cultural touchstone for our world,” Maholtra said.
“Showtime and Mass Appeal have curated a remarkably insightful – and emotional – series of programming, bringing new depth to the giants of Hip Hop and new exposure to the most important untold stories. We can’t wait to roll this out.”
“Hip Hop’s growth and rise over what will soon be 50 years is staggering. I’m proud to present Mass Appeal’s latest incredible initiative – Hip Hop 50 – honoring our movement’s undeniable impact,” Jones added.
“With influential partners like Showtime, we are poised to bring hip hop’s greatest stories to life and inspire a multitude of generations in the process. It is truly a blessing to be a part of this movement that gives due praise to my community and the culture.”
As part of the announcement, Showtime Documentary Films announced a quintet of projects premiering on the network under the umbrella:
Push It will tell the multi-dimensional stories of women in hip hop, the industry and behind the scenes, exploring their journeys from the past, present and future. Each piece will speak to the many stories of women who, while often silenced, pushed the boundaries of a male-dominated industry, choosing to fight and conquer the confinements built around their careers and artistic expression.
Hits from the Bong (Dir. Estevan Oriol),the definitive Cypress Hill documentary, will track the lives and careers of the groundbreaking West Coast group. Their unique sound, built on a hill of social consciousness and self-awareness, is cemented in the musical landscape of hip hop. Produced by Sony and Mass Appeal.
Untitled Ralph McDaniels Documentary (Dir. David Shadi Perez) is a story about the longest running New York City-based TV show, Video Music Box, helmed by Ralph McDaniels. Since its debut in 1983, Video Music Box has remained a hip hop mainstay, with McDaniels (or “Uncle Ralph,” as he’s known to legions of fans) serving as a leading Hip Hop tastemaker and introducing viewers to names like Jay Z, Nicki Minaj and Nas long before they were icons of the genre. Untitled Ralph McDaniels Documentary is produced by Mass Appeal.
Rolling Like Thunder (Dir. Roger Gastman) plunges into the secret underground world and history of freight train and subway graffiti culture, uncovering stories of myth-like artists, fallen soldiers, oddball romances and battles with the law. Produced by Mass Appeal.
Ricky Powell: The Individualist (Dir. Josh Swade) tells the story of New York City photographer Ricky Powell, who documented the music, fashion and art scenes of the ’80s and ’90s in downtown New York. Produced by Time Studios and MaggieVision Productions.
Photo: Henry Chalfant