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Last August, and just in time for the 50th Anniversary of Hip Hop, the late Tim “Styles” Sanchez [co-founder / co-owner of WestCoastStyles.com] and I embarked on this arduous journey in order to pay homage to the beloved art-form and its pioneering architects. Sadly, before our mission could even be completed, Styles suddenly passed away at the all-too-young age of 52. So in remembrance of my good friend and colleague, completing this task has become a real true labor of love. This one’s for you Tim! 🫡 #HH50

First things first, last year (August 11th 2023 to be exact) marked the 50th Anniversary of Hip Hop — What exactly does that mean to and for you?

Kid Sensation: It’s been a great year of reflection on the art form. Hip Hop means so much to me, I grew up listening to the early classics, and they spoke to me in a way that other music never could. I remember the first time I heard so many songs, where I was, who I was with – this year I’ve celebrated it all.

Chucky Smash [The Legion]: The anniversary of Hip Hop for me, personally, is a great thing! It pretty much covers my life span, and I am proud to say I have lived it and participated in it since its inception. It’s so dope to me, especially being from The Bronx where its origin bloomed.

Agallah Don [f.k.a. 8-Off Agallah]: The 50th marks a journey; I been through hella lot in this culture and gave so much to it, so it def marks as a triumph…to make it in Hip Hop is a blessing and a gift, so I’m well aware we have a long way to go…we only at the beginning of the trail that leads up further on this mountain, so I’m here still walking the trail.

Kasim “5ft” Reid [Black Moon]: To me, this means Defiance through Strength and Power of a culture that refuses to be denied and inspired a change in the world that brought FORTH unity amongst many people of different ethnicity and cultures abroad.

Carla “CMG” Green [The Conscious Daughters (TCD)]: 50 years of growth from the 1970’s, when it all started with the greatest invention ever! RAPPING to the beat!!

Psycho Les [The Beatnuts]: Yes.

Playboy Mikey D [& The L.A. Posse / Main Source]: The 50th Anniversary to me means Hip Hop is here to stay!! It’s a wonderful milestone to reach. I remember the days when people said it was noise. Now look, a multi-billion dollar industry. Drake said it best, “We Started From The Bottom Now We’re Here.”

Paula Perry: The 50th anniversary of Hip Hop means the world to me. It’s giving a ‘90’s artist like myself to continue making music as a Hip Hop artist, and have a legendary stance in our culture as I’ve been part of this culture for years.

Kool Kim / NYOIL [The U.M.C.’s]: On some level it means I’ve survived. I’ve lived long enough to see such a momentous occasion. To also still be a working artist and have a solid and active support base 30 years after my debut, is amazing for me. The fact that I am still active, healthy, and creative is a true blessing and I’m thankful for that.

MC Shy D: I’m still surprised it’s still going…it means a lot to me knowing I played a small part in.

DOC ICE [UTFO]: For me, it means Thank You Hip Hop for helping many of us out of situations that might have otherwise been bad for some of us, and It also shows how persistence overcomes resistance; many people thought Hip Hop was a fad.

Lakim Shabazz [née Welsh]: Yes, this (past) year marked 50 years of Hip Hop. It means that a musical trend the masses thought would fade has lasted; not only has our culture lasted, it has effected life in most aspects of it. I’m grateful to be a part of it, and to have contributed to it. It feels amazing; looking forward to another 50 years.

Grandmaster Caz: That Hip Hop is 50 years old, and I’ve been a part of it since its inception.

Dwayne “MUFFLA” Simon [Uncle Jamm’s Army / L.A. Posse]: A great accomplishment. As a pioneer, we saw it and are still seeing it through.

AL SKRATCH: It has many different meanings to me, as it is the Culture that raised me in the streets of New York City as a child during a time when positive influences were not so easy to come by.

…It also means that many of the pioneers who started, or at least were there at the beginning of it all, finally get the acknowledgement they deserve.

…For me personally, it is a spiritual celebration. I can appreciate all of the positive energy utilized in the Culture that has impacted the world. The vibrations of Our Ancestors is strong and still present and active today.

…As we know, energy can not be destroyed but only transferred and the vibrations for me are felt in the sound of paint streaming through a cap at the top of a spray can, the bounce of a B-Boy or Girl breaking, the scratching sound from a needle placed in the groove of a vinyl record, or the sound of my voice interlaced with raw drums, creating melody coming through a speaker.

Smoothe da Hustler: Shit, that means I’m getting old! Lol. Nah, all serious I was born 2 years shy of the birth of Hip Hop. So technically, I grew up with it as it grew. My dad would be playing everything that came out, from SOULSONIC FORCE to “THE MESSAGE” by MELLE MEL. I’m grateful, thankful, proud to be a part of this culture called Hip Hop. It’s my way of life, it’s made a way for my life and others, and I salute all the legends before me for all they’ve done, big or small, that made Hip Hop what it is today.

TEK [Smif-N-Wessun]: It means once again we’ve shown and proven that we can’t be stopped. So whoever counted us out wasn’t that good with numbers.

Torae: It’s incredible to see the culture that I grew up in and love celebrated in this way. Hip Hop gives us a purpose, we get so much great music and so many magical moments, it provides a way to provide for ourselves and our families. I couldn’t be prouder seeing it recognized in this way in its 50th year.

Christian (Black C) Mathews [RBL Posse]: It means a lot to me, the fact that Hip Hop has been here 50 years and is probably the number one genre of music; means it’s here to stay! Elements of Hip Hop is in almost every genre of music nowadays, and the most popular; from Reggaeton to Afrobeat, to even Country music.

MC J.U.I.C.E: Well, it means that the underground culture that I come from is now mainstream. It means that Hip Hop is now recognized across the globe as a legitimate art form, and because it consistently pours out new materials its history is becoming richer every day.

…50 years is not a long time when you think about time in general. But for an art form that people said was going to exist on the fringe and never be anything people would want to consume on a long-term basis, all those myths have been dispelled and Hip Hop stands as the number one mode of expression in the world.

Le’Shaun (Williams) [LL Cool J‘s “Doin It”]: The 50th anniversary of Hip Hop means nothing to me, and I am being completely honest,I was left out of everything. LL Cool J (went) on tour, and I was not given so much as a phone call to see if I wanted to perform, and that answers a few of your other questions at the end, so I’m not going to repeat the same answer…but, no, we do not keep in touch, we don’t speak and, therefore, I don’t see me doing any work with him in the future.

O.C.: On paper, I believe, I’m a couple years older than the 50th anniversary; It’s probably its 50th year since its inception of the very 1st rap song King Tim III or record deal or maybe…I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about 😅

…‘Cause it’s been around a bit longer than what the anniversary talks; from how I saw and was taught…anyhoo, I feel like it’s to be celebrated by and towards our elders in the game from the mid – late sixties to the ‘89, ‘92 ish…far as it bringing meaning to my life, it’s all of my being, my way of life on and off the scene…O.C. is really my gov’t name to the letters.

Sweet Tee: The 50th year of Hip Hop marks a momentous milestone in the history of this cultural movement. It signifies five decades of artistic expression, innovation, and impact that has transcended boundaries and influenced generations. From its humble beginnings to becoming a global phenomenon, Hip Hop has become a powerful voice, empowering marginalized communities, speaking truth to power, and serving as a platform for self-expression. As we commemorate this significant milestone, we reflect on the evolution of Hip Hop, its ability to unite, its cultural significance, and its continuous influence on music, fashion, art, and society as a whole. This milestone year serves as a reminder of the transformative power of music and the enduring legacy of Hip Hop. I am honored to be a part of the legacy.

Doitall Dupré L Kelly [Lords of the Underground]: I appreciates the long-lasting nature of Hip Hop culture reaching its 50th anniversary. It signifies that Hip Hop has not only endured, but has also evolved through the creativity of artists.

Jah Skillz [Da 5 Footaz]: The 50th Anniversary has meant so much to me on so many levels. Watching legends perform who inspired me to write as a kid, I’ve been able to reflect on the huge influence Hip Hop has on my life. That’s also meant for me a sense of pride like, “wow, I’ve made a contribution to this culture.”

Minnesota [The Money Boss Players]: Well, it’s actually Hip Hop’s 48th birthday as it started in Bronxdale projects in 1975 by Disco King Mario, who enlisted DJ Jazzy Jay as his 1st Hip Hop DJ; but the hype of the unity and celebration is everything.

Trey Bag [The Money Boss Players]: It means a whole lot. Something that came from Our People, Our Struggle and our Borough. They said it wouldn’t last and tried to shut it down so many times, but couldn’t. It shows how powerful Hip Hop is to still be around to this day.

Eddie Cheeba [The Money Boss Players]: It’s a big deal for the Hip Hop community; when I was young, the music was frowned upon by the older generation. Now even my elders are moving and grooving to rap and Hip Hop.

[Cheeba died on February 13, 2024, at the age of 67]

Lord Tariq [The Money Boss Players]: Being able to witness the birth of Hip Hop, which started in my hometown in the Soundview section of the Bronx, and then be able to contribute to it and then create a lane to push it further and watch other artists come after me and use that very same lane and go to the top means a lot.

DJ Illegal [Snowgoons]: Yeah, that’s big! I mean I been down with Hip Hop since the late ‘80’s, so I’m already 35 years in. Specially growing up in the ‘90’s with Hip Hop. I witnessed 3 decades of this culture and I’m very proud to be a part of it. So I think it’s very important to celebrate the 50 years and put some light specially on the originators.

To quote the late, great The Notorious B.I.G., “You never thought that Hip Hop would take it this far!” — Was this something that you ever could’ve imagined?

KS: Absolutely! Hip Hop went mainstream early. Once we hit the airwaves and multiple emcees jumped in the game, I knew it was over. It’s been exciting watching the music branch into many different forms and seeing the way cross genre mash ups have elevated us to the next level.

AD: Yes, I did see a path when many others did not. I remember when I was young, many older people was saying it was a fad that it wouldn’t last; now look, Hip Hop generated billions of dollars for companies and brands over the years and created jobs and opportunities and led rappers to do other ventures. Hip Hop became a gateway for other moves to make.


CMG: No, but since I was there to experience it all early on (won’t age myself), I never knew that I was being blessed to witness such a great phenomenon in the making – and to watch it bloom into one of the world’s most popular music genres and profitable careers is unfathomable!

PL: HIP HOP has come a long way.

MD: I never could have imagined me being on Soul Train, or witnessing one of my great friends, LL Cool J, hosting the Grammy Awards.

Bernadette (Benazir) Price (@bernadettealwayshumble): Yes, I always knew that Hip Hop would go far because it’s forever revolving.

PP: As Biggie quoted, I knew that Hip Hop will reign as it changed in many forms, but my Era of Hip Hop lives on forever. That ‘90’s feel will never be forgotten.

KK: In the beginning, I’d be lying if I said I could foresee such a thing. In fact, I can remember at around 30 years old, I vowed that I wouldn’t be some 50 year old cat still trying to rhyme! And yet here I am at 52 about to drop a new single and doing all kinds of collaborations and features, with artists I never thought I’d have the chance to work with. I just did a song with Freddie Foxxx, Masta Ace, Agallah, Akil the MC, Focus… and more on the way. It’s an amazing experience that you couldn’t have convinced me would happen all these years later.

MSD: Yes, because new rappers were coming out with new styles and making the art better.

DI: I definitely felt it would go far; how far, no one could have ever guessed.

LS: Actually, yes. All genres of music we create stand the test of time; you name it, Rock and Roll, Jazz, Disco, Funk, R&B, Hip Hop; it all stands the test of time. Music is the rhythmic expression of the Mind. We are the authors of rhythm; it can’t die.

GC: No, I was too busy crafting what it would become.

DS: He said it best. We never thought that far. We were still finding our way.

Charlie Brown [Leaders of the New School]: I always knew that rhythm and poetry would come of age and combine the exercises of singing the spoken word and phonetically speak the spoken word to create a mind enhancing chant to dance. It is an old to the new to the next level of genre induced celebration. Thus it embraces highs and lows, ups and downs. The struggle of love and it activating a balance from within a struggle to emancipate man, woman and child. In a colorful way. Bless the souls of the ancestors that paved and made the sacrifices to further the archives of Art, Music and Salvation. Recorded and memories are brought to fruition.

AS: I always knew Hip Hop would be an important part of society because it truly connects to a major group in our civilization. The underprivileged, impoverished, and those who have hope aspirations for something bigger and greater than their current condition or situation.

…“This Far,” I honestly didn’t imagine the major corporations wanting to be involved with Hip Hop as much as we see now, but that goes to show you two things: C.R.E.A.M. [Wu-Tang], and how influential Our Culture is around the World.

…They’re a few things personally that I never thought would happen, like meeting and hanging out with Kool Herc and Grandmaster Caz. Never thought my brother, Big Daddy Kane, would afford me the opportunity to share the stage with him or Teddy Ted with Nice & Smooth, and many others. Working with a producer like the Large Professor and Easy Mo Bee has brought me to the realization that anything is possible. Also, doing records with Kool G. Rap is something I never saw on my radar. Then to have an actual recording with Michael Jackson is unimaginable. Thanks for coming out. God bless. Good night!

SdH: Not at all! I got into it purely for the love and nostalgia of it at the time. Of course I dreamed about being on television, but to watch it now become the billion dollar business that it is, wow!

TEK: I never imagined making past 21 years of age with the circumstances we had growing up. I am undesirably grateful and thankful for the life though and being part of something that has changed so many lives for the better.

Gripsta [Ice-T Protégé]: First of all, thanks for having me for this interview…but no, this is not something that I ever could have imagined. I always felt like I was different, but I never could pinpoint in what way. It’s kind of like a dream for me to be born in this time, in this space, and be discovered by this person in this life and be who I am in this life. I come from a long line of hard-working people that have had some accomplishments, but a whole lotta struggle, so to even be able to be recognized by so many people all over the world is surreal.

Torae: I don’t think I ever gave it this type of thought. I didn’t care that the world wasn’t recognizing Hip Hop because it started in the parks and in the street. That’s where the community was. When I was coming up, it played from the cars that drove by, the radios people carried in the streets, Video Music Box on TV. Honestly, that was my whole world at the time anyway.

Black C: I’m 51 years old, I was pretty much born into Hip Hop! I grew up with it, so it never was a thought to me that it would only be a temporary thing; it was no different than me growing up with Soul music…it was here, and that’s all that was played in my household.

MC J.U.I.C.E: Actually, no! I mean, I’m old-school. I started doing Hip Hop in the ‘90’s. My legends were like LL Cool J, Slick Rick, Big Daddy Kane, and Rakim. I literally never ever thought that Hip Hop would be such a global phenomenon. I never thought it would take over all cultures and be the basis of all music. I never thought people would take the culture and water it down. I never thought it would get misused in this way. I guess, I just did not know the power Hip Hop would have one day. It is just awesome to think about.

Le’Shaun: As far as coding big, yes, I definitely thought that Hip Hop would get as far as it has gotten. It was never a doubt in my mind, but I’m also watching Hip Hop fall right now with a lot of the garbage music that is made. I can’t even understand half of the things people are talking about, and it has nothing to do with age. It just has gotten somewhat ridiculous.

O.C.: I did see it going places, how far was up to the artists coming up (and) were around other peers striving to not only just be heard, but to make your mark…if you make it inside, if not…you become in people’s minds (a) has been. I didn’t feel my impact till later on. I used to think I didn’t make a dent 😅 Boy, was I wrong! Yet humble 🥧 Pie’s a great dish to serve up.✊🏾 I seen it; some of our early architects that it’s going global, believe it or not.

ST: Hip Hop is involved in a wide range of incredible endeavors that extend far beyond the music industry. It has become a catalyst for social change, raising awareness about important issues; such as racial inequality, police brutality, and systemic injustice. Hip Hop has also made its mark in fashion, shaping trends and introducing unique styles that have become influential around the world. Additionally, Hip Hop has permeated the film and television industry, with artists creating thought-provoking and inspiring stories that reflect the realities of their communities. From education to entrepreneurship, Hip Hop has undoubtedly proven to be a cultural force that can inspire, uplift, and unite people from diverse backgrounds.

Andre Barnes a.k.a. A.G. [Showbiz & A.G.]: I’m not sure this could be imagined as big as it had grown. However. I witnessed this Culture from the park jams, and the energy and feeling is something that I knew anyone would want to experience. All over the world.

Doitall: The quote by The Notorious B.I.G., “You never thought that Hip Hop would take it this far!” resonates with me because, while he, I and many others had dreams of Hip Hop’s potential, it has surpassed more than expected.

JS: Honestly, I’ve never viewed Hip Hop from the lens of, will it last…but I do know my journey in Hip Hop has been bigger than I imagined

D’Wyze [The B.U.M.s]: Absolutely I imagined that Hip Hop will go this far, but as a kid did I know I was gonna be a part of it? No!

Minnesota: Not at all. Until the street artists and hustlers grabbed the helm in the ‘90’s.

Trey Bag: I definitely could see it going a long way. I just didn’t know how long. When Biggie said it, it already had made its way for some time at that point.

Lord Tariq: I never thought Hip Hop would create Billionaires; I know it was a lot of money to be made in it, but I couldn’t see them [Label Owners] letting us slide through to touch that Billionaire status.

DJ Illegal: Not at all. You have to imagine I started with the music in Germany at a time without Internet and basically had no news or updates on anything besides the music on the records and maybe some music videos. I felt I was the only kid in my area listening to Hip Hop. But slowly I connected with other headz and this is another part of the music that I love. Connecting with people all over the world that share the same passion for this culture is just special.


Images for the Hip Hop 50 feature on West Coast Styles with pictures of Hip Hop artists over the last 50 years.
WCS Exclusive Hip Hop Turns 50 (Part 1) #HH50

WCS Exclusive Hip Hop Turns 50 (Part 1) #HH50

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