Initiative Will Extend Through 2023, Telling Hip Hop’s Legendary Stories Across Premium Long-Form, Digital Content, Podcasts and More
Photo: Henry Chalfant
SHOWTIME announced HIP HOP 50, a multiyear, cross-platform programming initiative celebrating the 50th anniversary of Hip Hop in collaboration with entertainment company Mass Appeal. HIP HOP 50 will encompass unscripted series and features, podcasts and digital shorts by and about some of the foremost names in the genre, driven by Mass Appeal partner Nasir “Nas” Jones and Mass Appeal Chief Creative Officer and partner Sacha Jenkins, writer, director and producer of the Emmy® and Peabody-nominated SHOWTIME series WU-TANG CLAN: OF MICS AND MEN. HIP HOP 50 programming will begin airing later this year on SHOWTIME, running over the next three years and culminating with the 50th anniversary of the genre in 2023. The announcement was made by Vinnie Malhotra, Executive Vice President, Nonfiction Programming, Showtime Networks Inc.
“HIP HOP 50 will be an unprecedented multiplatform experience that is going to be absolutely essential, not only as a celebration of the genre but also as a cultural touchstone for our world,” said Malhotra. “SHOWTIME and Mass Appeal have curated a remarkably insightful – and emotional – series of programming, bringing new depth to the giants of Hip Hop and new exposure to the most important untold stories. We can’t wait to roll this out.”
Said Jones: “Hip Hop’s growth and rise over what will soon be 50 years is staggering. I’m proud to present Mass Appeal’s latest incredible initiative – HIP HOP 50 – honoring our movement’s undeniable impact. With influential partners like SHOWTIME, we are poised to bring Hip Hop’s greatest stories to life and inspire a multitude of generations in the process. It is truly a blessing to be a part of this movement that gives due praise to my community and the culture.”
Born as a style of music in the Bronx in the early 1970s, Hip Hop exploded beyond beats and lyrics to reach mainstream domination and become what is now a global culture with influence on all touchpoints of society, including politics, social issues, fashion and sports. As part of the HIP HOP 50 announcement, SHOWTIME Documentary Films announced a quintet of projects premiering on the network under the umbrella:
- PUSH IT will tell the multi-dimensional stories of women in Hip Hop, the industry and behind the scenes, exploring their journeys from the past, present and future. The project will take a deep dive into the ever-changing landscape and history through monumental dialogue from some of the most coveted talent in the game. Each piece will speak to the many stories of the women at the center who, while often silenced, pushed the boundaries of a male-dominated industry, choosing to fight and conquer the confinements built around their careers and artistic expression.
- HITS FROM THE BONG (Dir. Estevan Oriol), the definitive Cypress Hill documentary, will track the lives and careers of the groundbreaking West Coast group whose unique sound, built on a hill of social consciousness and self-awareness, is cemented in the musical landscape of Hip Hop. From cultivating the flower to smoking it, Cypress Hill invented a movement with a unique sound that has cemented itself, forever etched in the musical landscape of Hip Hop, capturing an intensity yet calmness that the world was waiting for. HITS FROM THE BONG is produced by Sony and Mass Appeal for SHOWTIME.
- UNTITLED RALPH MCDANIELS DOCUMENTARY (Dir. David Shadi Perez) is a story about the longest running New York City-based TV show, Video Music Box, helmed by Ralph McDaniels. Since its debut in 1983, Video Music Box has remained a Hip Hop mainstay, with McDaniels (or “Uncle Ralph,” as he’s known to legions of fans) serving as a leading Hip Hop tastemaker and introducing viewers to names like Jay Z, Nicki Minaj and Nas long before they were icons of the genre. With four decades of never-before-seen footage, the film will take viewers back on a journey through Uncle Ralph’s professional triumphs while examining his personal scars. UNTITLED RALPH MCDANIELS DOCUMENTARY is produced by Mass Appeal for SHOWTIME.
- ROLLING LIKE THUNDER (Dir. Roger Gastman) plunges into the secret underground world and history of freight train and subway graffiti culture, uncovering stories of myth-like artists, fallen soldiers, oddball romances and battles with the law. As this art form’s widespread integration bursts through into mainstream vibrancy via subway and freight trains alike, the message of Hip Hop spreads far and wide across the country. The film explores the train graffiti subculture from turn-of-the-century markings to modern-day masterpieces, forever linking the art form with America’s landscape. ROLLING LIKE THUNDER reveals the anonymous outlaws of fright writing who put life and limb on the line for an obsession while giving voice to their opposition. ROLLING LIKE THUNDER is produced by Mass Appeal for SHOWTIME.
- RICKY POWELL: THE INDIVIDUALIST (Dir. Josh Swade) tells the against-all-odds-story of New York City photographer Ricky Powell, who rose to worldwide fame while capturing one of the wildest, most electric times in popular culture. Documenting the music, fashion and art scenes of the ‘80s and ‘90s in downtown New York, Powell became known as “The Rickster” – a man who wasn’t just covering the scene, he was the scene. RICKY POWELL: THE INDIVIDUALIST is produced by TIME Studios and MaggieVision Productions.
Showtime Networks Inc. (SNI), a wholly owned subsidiary of ViacomCBS Inc., owns and operates the premium service SHOWTIME®, which features critically acclaimed original series, provocative documentaries, box-office hit films, comedy and music specials and hard-hitting sports. SHOWTIME is available as a stand-alone streaming service across all major streaming devices and Showtime.com, as well as via cable, DBS, telco and streaming video providers. SNI also operates the premium services THE MOVIE CHANNEL™ and FLIX®, as well as on demand versions of all three brands. SNI markets and distributes sports and entertainment events for exhibition to subscribers on a pay-per-view basis through SHOWTIME PPV®. For more information, go to www.SHO.com.
Mass Appeal is an entertainment company dedicated to telling stories from the perspective of those who shape and shift culture. Since 1996, we have documented the emerging movements that influence popular ideas. Today, Mass Appeal is the elevated voice of Hip Hop and its ever-expanding sphere of influence. Integrated offerings in content, music and creative services stoke Mass Appeal’s ability to maximize the impact of our output. Our diverse school of thought separates us from friends and foes alike.