Apple Music celebrates 50 years of hip-hop with Hip-Hop DNA, a 20 episode audio series mining the rich catalogs of today’s biggest stars to trace their artistic evolution back to the art form’s beginning. The program’s guiding principle is that all artists—no matter the era or discipline—carry with them the music and practices of their influences and, whether they’re aware of it or not, of their influences’ influences. The audio series is hosted by Ebro Darden, Apple Music’s global editorial head of hip-hop and R&B, and explores this chain of influence through four distinct lenses. Launched on May 8th, Apple Music kicks off “Origins,” with 9 episodes released throughout the month of May dedicated to unearthing the storylines that define hip-hop’s most prominent regions (East Coast, West Coast, Midwest, and South). After “Origins,” Episodes 10-20 will feature explorations of the crafts of MCing, production, and DJing. Hip-Hop DNA is designed to educate and inform listeners of every era, exposing them to connections within music that many fans never take the time to consider. Check out Apple Music’s full celebration around 50 years of hip-hop here: apple.co/hiphopdna
See below for details around episodes 1-5, which launched today and focus on the story of hip-hop starting with its East Coast birthplace.
The Intro (Ep 1)
In the introductory episode of Apple Music’s Hip-Hop DNA series, we explain how all the music of our most beloved stars carries with it generations of influences. Hip-Hop DNA establishes connections between the artists and eras your average fan is completely oblivious to, educating hip-hop fans both new and seasoned. We’re approaching several facets of hip-hop in this regard, including MCs, Production, and DJs, each of which have their own dedicated series unpacking their own incredible histories. Apple Music’s Hip-Hop DNA is testament to the fact that hip-hop has always been, and will always be, a family affair. Or to put it in the wise words of a Dr. Dre-produced deep-cut, ”We’re All In The Same Gang.“ Bronx Tale (Ep 2) Within the Bronx Tale episode, we cover some of the borough’s biggest stars, like Cardi B and French Montana, while unpacking a musical lineage that goes back to hip-hop scholar KRS-One and beyond. It’s a long way from someone like Cardi B to KRS—with a lot of artists in between—but as the old saying goes, you can’t know where you’re going until you know where you come from. Just Wanna Rock (Ep 3) Contemporary hip-hop artists like Lil Uzi Vert lean heavily into rock sonics and aesthetics, but Uzi is far from the first to do so. The Just Wanna Rock episode of Hip-Hop DNA goes deep on that tradition, highlighting rap-rock pioneers like Beastie Boys and Run DMC. NY State of Mind (Ep 4) “New York to the heart, but got love for all,” goes the opening line of Lord Tariq and Peter Gunz’s east coast classic, “Deja Vu (Uptown Baby).” It’s the perfect line to describe the premise of the “NY State of Mind” episode of Apple Music’s Origins series. We’re highlighting the impact of some of the Big Apple’s biggest stars and tracing a path from people like A$AP Rocky back to Rakim (the man he was named after). It's A Queens Thing, Baby (Ep 5) As many universally adored artists as Queens, New York has delivered to hip-hop, the borough deserves its props. From Nicki Minaj to Nasty Nas to A Tribe Called Quest to Roxane Shante, the lineage of Queens MCs goes deep, and in plenty of different directions. With It’s A Queens Thing, Baby, we’re showing you how everyone in that lineage took something from the players that came before them.