It may seem unusual that a superior documentary on one of the most American of art forms—hip-hop culture and rap music—would be produced by a Canadian director and hosted by an MC raised in Ontario. But director Darby Wheeler’s Hip-Hop Evolution proves the universality of rap by digging deep into the roots of the music as the early soundtrack to bustling house parties and an urgent street culture in New York City. Host Shad is an earnest, knowledgeable guide, helping viewers navigate the genre’s history from the 1970s to the 1990s—including in-depth interviews with rap icons like DJ Kool Herc, Russell Simmons, Kurtis Blow, Public Enemy’s Chuck D., and many more. The four-part series serves as a detailed chronicle of how music born from the poorest neighborhoods in urban America rose to become a worldwide phenomenon, giving new vitality and visibility to long-ignored voices from people of color along the way. For its success in bridging cultures and fleshing out the history of an important pop culture institution with a documentarian’s detail, Hip-Hop Evolution wins a Peabody Award.
PRIMARY PRODUCTION CREDITS
Executive Producers: Scot McFadyen, Sam Dunn, Nelson George, Russell Peters. Producers: Scot McFadyen, Sam Dunn, Darby Wheeler, Rodrigo Bascun. Writer: Rodrigo Bascun. Director: Darby Wheeler. Co-Director: Sam Dunn, Scot McFadyen. Talent: Shad Kabango.