After treading cautiously through the realm of hip-hop for nearly four decades, the Recording Academy has embraced the genre wholeheartedly in its most prestigious categories for the 60th Grammy Awards, which take place Jan. 28. The recognition is long overdue. Hip-hop has shaped music and culture worldwide for decades. In this ongoing series of stories, we track the rise, present and ever-more influential future of hip-hop.

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Hip-hop's television takeover

"Atlanta's" Donald Glover, center; Lakeith Stanfield, left; and Brian Tyree Henry. (Matthias Clamer / FX)
"Atlanta's" Donald Glover, center; Lakeith Stanfield, left; and Brian Tyree Henry. (Matthias Clamer / FX)

THE CEREMONY FOR the 60th Grammy Awards is still two weeks away, but already music’s biggest TV night has made history.

For the first time, hip-hop artists dominate the majority of nominees chosen in the academy’s top categories, including record, album and song of the year.

But that sound you’re hearing isn’t champagne corks popping in celebration. It’s exasperated sighs that the Recording Academy only just discovered what the rest of the entertainment industry noticed back in the flip-phone era: Hip-hop, once an outlier, is now the status quo.

From Broadway’s “Hamilton” to Hollywood’s “Straight Outta Compton” to television’s “Atlanta,” hip-hop’s broad influence on American pop culture has defied countless predictions that a nervous white mainstream would never fully embrace a trend born out of the urban black experience.

Consider hip-hop’s television takeover. Today, rappers are not only backing films about the black experience, but they are creating, producing and starring in top-rated cable and network series and breaking out of music categories at film and television award shows.


Hip-hop is the soundtrack of at least one, probably two generations now. … It’s part of everything … and everyone under the age of 40.


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