The Kennedy Center’s inaugural Hip Hop Culture program has begun and will feature several events and performances until April.

Q-Tip of the pioneering '90s rap group A Tribe Called Quest is serving as artistic director of the Kennedy Center’s very first seven-month-long celebration of hip hop culture. The celebration began with its first event on October 6, when Q-Tip kicked off the festivities with a musical collaboration with Jason Moran -- the first time the two have ever performed together. The event was followed by a free dance party featuring music by DJ Rich Medina and The Markmen. Six more events are planned between now and April -- a few of which are free to attend. Next up, on November 5, is the free Word Beats and Life Festival, which will feature a b-boy dance competition in which the nation’s best and most talented b-boys and b-girls compete for prizes as famous hip hop DJs provide the tunes. The event will also include the Fine Lines Paint Jam, featuring 30 local area artists and graffiti artists who will create artworks live on the spot inspired by the film "Wild Style." Even if you can’t make it, you still can catch the dance competition live online on the Kennedy Center website. [gallery columns="2" ids="5017,5018"] During The Bridge Concert Series on November 20, the work of early hip hop legends and pioneers Kurtis Blow, Kool Moe Dee, Spoonie Gee, MC Sha-Rock, and Queen Lisa Bee will be featured as DJ Kool Red Alert provides the music. Hosted by Roxanne Shante and Grandmaster Caz, the event will recognize the early hip hop musicians who established the musical genre’s foundation.  Tickets for the event cost between $19 and $69. [caption id="attachment_5019" align="aligncenter" width="720"]Hip Hop Courtesy of 107.5 WBLS[/caption] On December 8, area residents and visitors will have the chance to attend the In the Beginning Dance Party -- free of charge! The event will be a holiday jam and silent disco. The DJs haven’t been announced yet, so more than likely Q-Tip has a few pleasant surprises up his sleeve!
The event series picks back up March 9 with the Critical Breaks Reading Series: Chasing Mehserle, which is a play/performance piece that delves into Oakland’s cultural transformation and communal response following the murder of Oscar Grant by a police officer in 2009. Tickets to the reading series are priced at $20. [caption id="attachment_5020" align="aligncenter" width="800"]Hip Hop Courtesy of Joan Osato[/caption] Also in March will be a screening of the film "Wild Style" followed by a discussion and demo. Discussion panel guests will include Grandmaster Caz, Fab Five Freddy, and Busy Bee, while the demo will be led by Grand Wizard Theodore who's credited with having invented the scratch DJing technique. A post event dance party is also planned. Tickets are $25. [caption id="attachment_5021" align="aligncenter" width="596"]Hip Hop Courtesy of Picquery.com[/caption] The last event of the Hip Hop Culture series will take place April 7. Live performances of excerpts of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ New York Times best-selling book "Between the World and Me" will be delivered by guest artists with the music of Kennedy Center award-winner Jason Moran. Tickets for the final event range from $39 to $99. [caption id="attachment_5023" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Hip Hop Courtesy of www2.ljworld.com[/caption] For more information on the Kennedy Center’s Hip Hop Culture season, event schedule ,and tickets, visit the Kennedy Center’s website. Which hip hop event are you looking forward to the most? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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