Image courtesy of the Recording Academy
How The Recording Academy Is Joining The Biden-Harris Administration's First-Ever U.S. National Strategy To Counter Antisemitism
According to the White House's website, "[the] administration announces over 100 new actions and over 100 calls to action to combat antisemitism." Here's a closer look at what's within, including a listening session hosted by the Recording Academy.
Joe Biden decided to run for president after the appalling, deadly Neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017 — and six years later, antisemitic hatred is still trending upward. According to the FBI, American Jews account for 2.4% of the U.S. population, but they are the victims of 63% of reported religiously motivated hate crimes.
As the White House's website puts it, "While antisemitic incidents most directly and intensely affect the Jewish community, antisemitism threatens all of us. Antisemitic conspiracy theories fuel other forms of hatred, discrimination, and bias — including discrimination against other religious minorities, racism, sexism, and anti-LGBTQI+ hate.
"Antisemitism seeks to divide Americans from one another, erodes trust in government and nongovernmental institutions, and undermines our democracy," it continues.
That's why the Biden-Harris administration is taking a stand. In December 2022, President Biden initiated the Interagency Policy Committee on Antisemitism, Islamophobia and Related Forms of Bias and Discrimination, which is led by the White House Domestic Policy Council and National Security Council.
Their first order of business? To conceive — and put into action — the first-ever U.S. national strategy in opposition of antisemitism in the United States.
With the help of 1,000 stakeholders from all walks of life and spheres of American society, the plan details more than 100 new actions that Executive Branch agencies are taking to counter this scourge — all to be completed within a year of the overall launch.
As the plan gets underway, the Recording Academy is joining the fight. In July 2023, the world's leading society of music people will host a listening session with Recording Academy leadership that is specifically curated for creators in Jewish music. The objective of this event is to foster a welcoming, inclusive environment, where leaders in Jewish music can work together to engender a sense of community and trust.
Additionally, the Recording Academy will collaborate with the Black Jewish Entertainment Alliance to present a panel discussion commemorating the 50th anniversary of hip-hop. The panel discussion aims to honor and celebrate hip-hop while acknowledging the fruitful, world-shifting cultural collaborations between Black and Jewish leaders within the music industry.
For more information on the various moving parts of this plan, visit the White House's website. Join the Recording Academy, and all involved in this righteous strategy, in countering hate, bigotry and discrimination wherever you see it — including the Jewish community worldwide.
Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for The Recording Academy
How Vice President Kamala Harris And The Recording Academy Celebrated The 50th Anniversary Of Hip-Hop: "Hip-Hop Culture Is America's Culture"
Presented by Live Nation Urban, the Recording Academy's Black Music Collective, and the U.S. Vice President's office, the once-in-a-lifetime event celebrated 50 years of hip-hop with multiple performances from Lil Wayne, Common and more hip-hop luminaries
"Welcome to the first-ever hip-hop house party at the home of the Vice President of the United States," U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris said excitedly from a lively stage propped up in her backyard. Her words reminded folks of the Notorious B.I.G.'s eternal lyrics: "You never thought that hip-hop would take it this far."
Indeed, as guests gathered at Vice President Harris' residence in Washington, D.C., on Saturday for a private, intimate event celebrating the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, a palpable sense of wonder and awe, mixed with waves of laughter and bliss, overtook the energized crowd. Here we were, honoring hip-hop in the home of the Vice President, with rap classics blasting from the stage as the unrelenting D.C. sun kept attendees beaming and alive.
The celebration, co-presented by Live Nation Urban and the Recording Academy's Black Music Collective, recognized hip-hop's global influence, evolution and long-lasting impact and brought together music industry professionals, U.S. Senators and Governors, politicians, and celebrated rappers — all true fans of and believers in the power of hip-hop.
Among them, Vice President Harris was perhaps the most vocal hip-hop supporter of them all. In an impassioned, heartfelt speech, she boasted of the immeasurable impact hip-hop has made on American culture.
"Hip-hop is the ultimate American art form … Hip-hop now shapes nearly every aspect of America's popular culture," she said. "And it reflects the incredible diversity and ingenuity of the American people.
"Hip-hop culture is America's culture," she continued. "It is a genre. It is music, melody and rhyme. And hip-hop is also an ethos of strength and self-determination, of ambition and aspiration, of pride, power, and purpose."
Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff, who confirmed with the audience that his home with Vice President Harris is, as a matter of fact, a "hip-hop household," echoed the sentiment in his opening remarks, emphasizing that the event aimed to "celebrate the legends who pioneered the music we love, the next generations who will carry on their legacy, and the artists and producers who use the power of music to create change."
For the Recording Academy, the celebration was a historic milestone in the evolution of hip-hop music and culture as a whole and the latest installment in the organization's year-long celebration of 50 years of hip-hop. In February, hip-hop took over the 2023 GRAMMYs with a special, star-studded tribute to hip-hop's 50th anniversary featuring performances from rap pioneers (Grandmaster Flash, Run-D.M.C., Chuck D, Flavor Flav), modern legends (Busta Rhymes, Missy Elliott, Lil Wayne), and next-gen stars (GloRilla, Lil Baby). Now, from the GRAMMYs stage to the Vice President's backyard, hip-hop is everywhere, and the genre's impact has touched virtually every aspect of global pop culture.
"Now, fifty years later, there's not a single genre of music that hasn't absorbed something essential from hip-hop," Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr. said in a speech as he introduced "the first Vice President of the hip-hop generation."
"Our Vice President was rooted in hip-hop. It is essential to who she is. And — as today shows — she has brought hip-hop with her to the White House," he continued.
The multifaceted event featured a variety of performances and speeches celebrating the five core pillars of hip-hop: MCing, DJing, breakdancing, graffiti and beatboxing. As performers like legendary beatboxer Doug E. Fresh, DJ Dom and DJ D-Nice commanded the stage, Bboy Gravity and his breakdance crew wowed the audience with their neck-breaking moves; throughout the event, a graffiti artist completed a live graffiti mural wall painting from beginning to end.
"This event perfectly embodied everything that we at the Black Music Collective are about, and it's been the honor of a lifetime to work alongside other industry leaders and Vice President Kamala Harris to curate this historic celebration," Ryan Butler, the Recording Academy's Vice President of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, said in a statement. "We chose to focus on five key pillars of hip-hop — MC, DJ, breakdance, graffiti and beatbox — which allowed us to celebrate all of the distinct elements of such a culturally significant movement."
A powerful lineup of artists further framed the five elements of hip-hop. Remy Ma, MC Lyte and Roxanne Shanté showcased some of the many ways women have influenced hip-hop culture, while Bay Area rapper Too $hort represented the West Coast with his performance of his classic hits "Life is Too $hort" and "Blow the Whistle." Common's freestyle-fueled performance exemplified the higher-learning, conscious-expression aspect of hip-hop, while fellow Chicago rapper Saba held it down for the fresh faces of hip-hop. The event also featured performances by legendary rappers Fat Joe, Slick Rick, Doug E. Fresh, D.C.'s own Wale, Jeezy, who performed his fitting hit "My President," and Lil Wayne, who delivered a show-stopping, career-spanning closing set.
As the event ended, an ominous thunderstorm loomed up in the clouds, but that didn't stop attendees from basking in the afterglow, snapping their final selfies and videos of what was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Too $hort best summed up that sense of unbelievable astonishment.
"The journey of hip-hop was not projected to be this," Too $hort said during an on-site interview. "It's a beautiful thing that the image of the culture has changed enough to be used as a tool … Every aspect of life is influenced by hip-hop. Nobody expected that … But at the same time, we were relentless enough to keep doing our craft, and now we're here — we're here! I can't believe I'm here."
*— With additional reporting from John Ochoa*