Yesterday I was invited back to my MTV building where I spent 12 years of my career working. It was one of the best times of my life.
I started at MTV News as a presenter MTV International in 1997, quickly moving to producer director and then across to MTV UK where I headed up MTV Base production until 2009.
Working at MTV in Camden in London has been one of the most fun chapters of my life and led to some incredible adventures across the globe with some of the world’s most prolific music and entertainment talent.
As a progressive American business, MTV were always ahead of the curve when it came to any conversations around inclusivity and diversity.
In fact I was on the MTV diversity committee when I started in television way back in 1997!
Every year now for the past 6 years MTV has an annual inclusion week that is global for Paramount staff.
It’s an opportunity for MTV staff around the globe to come together and listen to voices that are often marginalised.
I was invited back to MTV yesterday by the head of diversity Wincie Knight and Sophia Lee, to curate and host a panel around the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, and where hip hop culture intersects with and has impacted British culture.
The diversity team worked with me to curate a long list and then a short list of panelists who have helped shape curate and document British Hip Hop culture.
When it comes to Hip Hop, often the earliest originators and voices are not given their credit.
Ultimately, we had a stellar panel of critical expert thought leaders and voices, who could dissect and debate the conversation about how Hip-Hop culture has impacted British culture.
I wanted to respect and honor the Paramount office of Global Inclusions vision for ensuring that no voices are marginalised.
When Hip Hop shines today, it rarely shines a light on the original get fresh crew.
So we ensured we chose four important and topically relevant names.
Cookie Pryce. Someone who was one half of the first UK hip hop artist outfit Cookie Crew, and now continues to work in the industry and is next month receiving a lifetime legacy award from the Artist and Managers Awards. How amazing is that!
Normski, someone who was a part of the fabric of Hip Hop in the 80’s, presenting his show Dance Energy and documenting via his incredible photography the culture for the past five decades. His new book just released is titled the Man with the Golden Shutter. It captures the essence of UK Hip Hop. Go check that out!
Jonzi D. Someone who is one of the original B Boys dancers and rappers and is currently a resident artist at Sadler’s Wells Theatre, who with his annual Hip Hop theatre festival titled Breakin’ Convention has done single-handedly more for hip hop dance culture in this country than anyone I know. In January he launches his Hip Hop Theatre Academy at the Olympic Park. We must all support that!
Neef. A younger journalist who documents the stories of younger Hip-Hop culture stars like Skepta, Dave, Giggs, Little Sims and Burna Boy. He has a new book being released to this January titled Where We Come From which is an incredible look at Hip Hop and rap genres across the UK Nations and regions and the stories of Caribbean and African families who came here. I’ve read it. It’s brilliant!
It was a powerful hours conversation live from the MTV studios in Camden to the Paramount staff globally across New York, LA and Latin America.
It clearly showed and proved how Hip-Hop culture has shaped our lives and the way we think, speak, dress, dance, listen, move, and our attitude.
Hip Hop culture has given a voice to the voiceless and shaped so much of what our society is today.
All our love and respect goes to the musicians, their teams, the media platforms, the radio DJs, the party DJs, the TV producers, the live events teams, music journalists, those who capture and championed the music and culture relentlessly, and of course the music lovers!
Congratulations to Hip Hop cultural tribes everywhere on 50 years of smashing it!
Thanks to Funny Hands TV for the brilliant slick tech.
Thanks to Chris & Rob at Paramount Tech Team.
Thanks to Stefon Grant from the REFRAME PROJECT at the South Bank Centre
Thanks to my best friend Roderick Arnold for sitting at my unwell mothers bedside in hospital so that I could get away to do this.