In her opening statement, Vice President Kamala Harris conveyed that hip-hop has become an influential force across various facets of American popular culture, reflecting the remarkable diversity and creativity of the American population.
“Her sentiments resonated with the approximately 400 gathered artists, executives, politicians, journalists, and other attendees. Undoubtedly, hip-hop stands as one of America’s most significant cultural exports.”
Although hip-hop has received some of the respect it deserves in recent years — far from enough, given that it is without a doubt the most important and influential cultural movement of the last half-century
it was still surreal to be watching artists like Wayne, Common, Jeezy, Fat Joe, Remy Ma, Doug E. Fresh, Slick Rick, MC Lyte, Wale, and Madame Vice President’s fellow Oakland native Too Short perform on the front lawn of the residence, while t
“They both remained at the event throughout its duration, which was co-hosted by the Recording Academy’s Black Music Collective and Live Nation Urban.
The event unfolded beneath scorching sun and stifling humidity until clouds rolled in during the final hour. Shortly after the event concluded, a thunderstorm struck, dispersing any lingering attendees to their rideshares.”
With a dress code of “smart casual,” attendees started congregating outside the residence’s gates roughly an hour before the official 11 a.m. admittance time, and costumes varied from beautiful to DGAF.
Attendees were forced to fill out security questionnaires as part of their RSVP, and despite the presence of courteous, black-clad secret service officials, access to the event was no more strict than an international flight.
In the residence’s backyard, an expansive stage adorned with dazzling lights and video screens took center stage. Surrounding it, plush couches, tables, pillows, and rugs were thoughtfully arranged.
Nearby, multiple bars and food stands offered delectable delights like chicken-and-waffles and grits. Attentive waitstaff circulated among the guests, offering delectable appetizers and ice cream sandwiches that likely succumbed to the heat in mere minutes.
Shortly after noon, a brief introduction performance was followed by remarks from Emhoff, Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr., and Harris herself.
She spoke of growing up listening to hip-hop and riding her bike from Oakland to San Francisco with her pals as a kid, “dancing until we had to take off our shoes.”
She then introduced DJ D-Nice, who served as a type of event compere, and the performances, which lasted between 10 and 20 minutes, started. While numerous acts had been confirmed ahead of time — Common, Jeezy, MC Lyte, and Roxanne Shante — few in the crowd appeared to know who would take the stage.
Fat Joe and Remy Ma performed “All the Way Up,” while Doug E. Fresh delivered renditions of “The Show” and “La Di Da Di” before introducing the extravagantly dressed Slick Rick.
Rick adorned himself with earrings, rings, bracelets, a large watch adorned with concentric circles of diamonds, and a massive pendant shaped like Africa, encrusted with jewels and suspended from an oversized gold chain.
“Security asked Rick, ‘Is all that jewelry really necessary?’ and I said, ‘Do you know who this is?'” Fresh recalled. Yes, it is required!”
Fresh capped out their act with a five-minute demonstration of human-beatbox virtuosity.
Almost all of the artists mentioned the surroundings. Common, who was later spotted holding hands with alleged girlfriend Jennifer Hudson, soared through many of his songs and rapped along with Notorious B.I.G.’s 1994 smash “Juicy,” concluding with the changed phrase, “We never thought that hip-hop would take us to the vice-president’s lawn!”
During Jeezy’s set, clouds started to drift in, bringing welcome reprieve from the heat, and the MC said that there would be one more performance before the “skies opened up”:
Lil Wayne leaped to the stage, as expected, sporting a long white T-shirt and a black suit jacket. He ripped through five songs before finishing with a double dose of “6 Foot 7 Foot” and “A Milli.”
Variety asked the vice president how she planned to follow the incident in a quick interview. “I can’t!” she said. “This is truly one-of-a-kind.”