Vice President’s Residence
United States Naval Observatory
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Welcome, everybody. (Applause.) Welcome. Thank you, Harvey. Welcome, welcome, welcome.
And let me just thank Harvey for all you have done to make this day. Someone just asked me, “Is this what you imagined?” I said, “This is beyond my wildest imagination that we would be here together celebrating all that we know is wonderful about our country.”
I want to thank the Recording Academy’s Black Music Collective and Live Nation Urban for all that you have done to make today possible.
And so, let me just say welcome, everybody. Welcome to the first-ever hip-hop house party — (applause) — at the home of the Vice President of the United States. (Applause.)
And welcome, also, of course, to the members of our administration — including Secretary Miguel Cardona, who is here — and all the elected officials, including members of the United States Congress, so many of whom have been longstanding champions of hip-hop.
I want to welcome Governor Wes Moore, who is here. (Applause.)
And to all the industry leaders and artists, welcome to our home.
So, I don’t need to tell anybody here, but hip-hop is the ultimate American art form. Born at a back-to-school party in the Bronx, raised on the streets of Philadelphia, Chicago, Oakland, and Atlanta — (applause) — hip-hop now shapes nearly every aspect of America’s popular culture. And it reflects the incredible diversity and ingenuity of the American people.
It combines rhythms from the continent of Africa, from the Caribbean, from Latin America with the sounds of soul and gospel and R&B and funk to create something entirely new.
And to be clear: Hip-hop culture is America’s culture. (Applause.) It is a genre. It is music and melody and rhyme. And hip-hop is also an ethos of strength and self-determination, of ambition and aspiration, of pride, power, and purpose.
Hip-hop is a declaration of identity. It says, “I love who I am, I represent where I come from, and I know where I’m going.”
And I will tell you, as a daughter of Oakland, California, hip-hop has been a part of my life since its very beginning — from growing up knowing every word to “Rapper’s Delight,” to being in high school when my best friend from kindergarten, Stacey Johnson, who is here, would pick me up in her father’s black Cadillac Coupe DeVille — there she is — to drive to a club in the city where the DJ played and we danced until we needed to take off our shoes.
A few years later, I arrived here in D.C. at howard University. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE MEMBERS: H-U!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: You know!
AUDIENCE MEMBERS: You know!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: And among my most prized possessions were my bootleg Too Short tapes. (Applause.) (Laughs.) And let me tell you, when I played those tapes, those kids from New York and Chicago and Philly showed up.
And why did we all love our hip-hop so much? Well, one reason is it speaks truth — raw, unfiltered, without apology.
And like all art forms, especially what comes from the streets, it is not without criticism or controversy. Because here’s the thing: It has always channeled the voices of the people. It tells the stories that don’t make the news. But as the great Chuck D once said, “Rap is Black America’s CNN.” (Applause.) And by telling the truth, hip-hop calls us to action.
You know, many of you know, as a young child, my parents took me in a stroller as they marched for civil rights. And so, growing up, my generation — so many of us, our generation — we didn’t just read about the Civil Rights Movement; we were born into it. And hip-hop then presented us with a new language to shine a light on injustice and inequality, to demand dignity and respect.
Just reflect: From Grandmaster Flash to Queen Latifah, Lauryn Hill, and Kendrick Lamar, generations of hip-hop artists helped to elevate the collective conscience through their voices.
And then, of course, there is the brilliant complexity of this art form — that within a genre, there are many genres — think — all distinct and tied to a specific place or region. Because whether it was from Brooklyn or the Bronx, Chi-town or the ATL, the West Coast or the Dirty South, hip-hop will always let you know about pride of place.
And here’s what’s so incredible: Today, hip-hop is everywhere. So, as Vice President of the United States, I have traveled this world — (applause) — and I firmly believe hip-hop is one of America’s greatest exports. (Applause.)
In fact, earlier this year, I was in Ghana, joined by some friends like Idris Elba and Sheryl Lee Ralph and Spike Lee. And I visited a recording studio where young artists, influenced by hip-hop, have helped to create their own unique music: the globe-trotting Afrobeats. (Applause.)
And the same is happening around the world where young people have adopted hip-hop to tell their own stories of self-determination. From the streets of Ghana, to France, to Japan, to Brazil, and to its home all the way back in the Bronx, hip-hop is traveling the world.
And so, half a century later, it is clear: Hip-hop will not be erased. Hip-hop is here to stay.
So, now join me in welcoming to the stage the incredible D-Nice. (Applause.) And welcome.