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Hip Hop: The Songs That Shook America

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From executive producers Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson, Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter, Shawn Gee and Alex Gibney, each episode of this series focuses on a groundbreaking song pivotal to the evolution of American music and culture. From the early hip-hop battles to verses that sparked hope and inspired change, watch artists deconstruct their composition, revisit the impact the song had on them personally, and dissect the socio-economic and cultural conditions that inspired the landmark work and gave voice to a generation.

Latest episodes

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"Ladies First" by Queen Latifah; at the height of hip-hop's misogynistic themes, the culture bows down to their queens of rap.
VOD available
"The Bridge" by Marley Marl and MC Shan; a song designed to foster community pride ignites hip-hop's most epic rap battle.
VOD available
"Jesus Walks" by Kanye West; in an era of excess, a Christian rap song challenges the church and changes its own ideals about religion and rap music.
VOD available
"Rock Box" by Run-DMC; how one song tore down the barriers between rock and hip-hop, race and class on American radio and television.
VOD available
"Elevators" by OutKast; hip-hop's Southern voice breaks through with an unsuspecting song that redefines rap's cultural and geographic boundaries.
VOD available
"Alright" by Kendrick Lamar; making protest music in the era of Black Lives Matter, "Alright" becomes the unsaid anthem for hope.
VOD available
Questlove of the Roots discusses how the 808 drum machine created and crystallized a new sound in hip-hop.
VOD available
Boogie Down Productions' D-Nice discusses the legacy of the late DJ Scott La Rock with his son, Scott La Rock Jr.
VOD available
John Legend recalls his initial reaction to hearing the Kanye West classic and what the song means to him.
VOD available
DMC explains why "The Bridge Is Over" didn't faze him.
VOD available
Black Thought gives his thoughts on the connections between Grandmaster Caz & DMC and Li'l Rodney C & Run.
VOD available
Queen Latifah talks about representing her community and her music to the public in a positive way.
VOD available
Dame Dash talks about Kanye bringing urban flavor out of the hood.
VOD available
Pharrell Williams gives his thoughts on the ways negative associations with hip-hop have affected the way society perceives it.
VOD available
Questlove demonstrates how hip-hop incrementally evolved from its creation in 1973.
VOD available
Kyambo "Hip Hop" Joshua remembers his emotional first listen to Kanye West's "Jesus Walks."
VOD available
Self-proclaimed "ultimate freestyle lunchroom champion" GLC shows off his skills and reflects on the Chicago hip-hop scene that produced Kanye West.
VOD available
Questlove gives his thoughts on how hip-hop gives a voice to the voiceless and the have-nots.

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