VH1 Honors Hip-Hop Legends: Pioneers Celebrate, Look To Future

In 1979, when the

Sugar Hill Gang released “Rapper’s Delight,” critics regarded

rap music as just a passing fad. Twenty-five years later, P.Diddy, clad in Run-DMC

regalia—Shelltops, black leather blazer and fedora—stood on the stage

at the Hammerstein Ballroom in Manhattan and uttered the famous Bad Boy mantra,

which could easily double as that of hip-hop’s: “I thought I told

you that we won’t stop.”

Diddy, along with

the evening’s emcee, Vivica A. Fox, and a host of others (MC Lyte, Tracy

Morgan, Rosalyn Sanchez, Ed Lover and Dr. Dre) gathered Sunday night [October

3rd] in New York for the inaugural VH1 Hip-Hop Honors to celebrate the contributions

of hip-hop’s founders and pioneers.


always used to ask us when we first started back in ‘83, ‘Where

do you think you’ll be in five years? ’” recalled DMC of the

early naysayers. “And we said in 15 years, we’ll be back here doing

an interview with you.


our time to celebrate,” the rapper added gleefully.

Run-DMC, Public

Enemy, and KRS-One were all honored in a nod to the Golden Era of hip-hop. Fat

Joe and the Terror Squad performed a rendition of KRS-One and the Boogie Down

Production’s “South Bronx.”

Joe, though tired

and winded during the rendition, won the admiration of the Blastmaster. “To

have Joe do it, who I used to spray paint with, and Pun was the lookout,”

KRS said of his fellow borough resident. “It was perfect.”

Nas also performed

a less than stellar, but heartfelt, tribute as the thought-provoking emcee invoked

2Pac with “Keep Ya Head Up.” ‘Pac’s sister, Sekywa Shakur,

represented the family and was visibly moved by the Queensbridge poet.

Shakur mouthed

the words to the song with her eyes closed from her seat near the stage; the

scene was one of the more beautiful moments of the night.

Genre-defying musician

Kid Rock joined DJs S&S, Kid Capri, Grandmaster Flash and Doug E. Fresh

in an All-Star Tribute to DJ Hollywood and DJ Kool Herc–easily the man

of the evening. “You can’t do jazz and not know Miles Davis,”

explained Ice T. “You can’t do hip-hop if you don’t know who

Herc is and these cats.”

To round out the

Four Elements of Hip-Hop, the Rock Steady Crew and the graffiti movement were

also honored, respectively. Fab 5 Freddy reunited with Debbie Harry as the duo

introduced the graf dedication.

Harry was humbled

as she recounted her remarkable hit song “Rapture” and her inclusion

in the night’s events. “I feel like I’m really very lucky

to be a part of it [hip-hop],” she said. “It made a difference in

my life and I think I made a different in its life.”

Although the night

was billed as a tribute to the past, many of the culture’s icons had opinions

on the present and suggestions for the future. Freddy noted in particular the

need for more balance in hip-hop. “Hopefully by taking a look back, people

can remember how flavorful it was when we had variety—so it’s not

just a one trick pony,” the former host of Yo! MTV Raps said. “It

gets better, though, the best is yet to come still.”

DJ Hollywood agreed.

The 50-year-old added that versatility was important in order to keep the culture

fresh. “I’m hoping that some of these guys don’t get locked

into the box,” Hollywood said. “So that in 35 years, they gonna

be telling their story.”

Said Herc: “I’m

just glad I’m not here speaking about it in the past tense.”

VH1 Hip-Hop Honors

airs on Tuesday October 12.