The head tribesman sounds off on his distinguished role at the Kennedy Center
“The institutionalization of hip-hop” does not have a nice ring to it. But as the first appointed artistic director of hip-hop culture at the Kennedy Center, Q-Tip is uniquely qualified for a task that hip-hop statesmen have only recently begun to embrace as necessary for its preservation. 9th Wonder‘s heading it in Cambridge, and Tip is doing-it-to-death in DC.
Just before hitting the stage last week to commence the Kennedy Center’s inaugural season of hip-hop programming (though heavyweights like Common and Yasiin Bey are no strangers to that stage) the de facto A Tribe Called Quest frontman sat with NPR to discuss his position and the purpose of the program in light of Trump’s presidency and the inevitable passing of cultural titans like dear friend and fellow tribesman, Phife Dawg. Powering through a cold, Tip demonstrated just how offensive the notion of this presidency is:
“I mean look, we are talking about our president, we got to talk about the elephant in the room, he’s so polarizing that he and his wife had to kind of decline the invitation to the center, which is something since its inception, I believe since ’73 or ’74, that every sitting president happily went to because the arts is, it’s our biggest export in this country. It’s not oil, it’s not apples, it’s not cotton, it’s entertainment in all forms — media, sports, music. So when you have something as prestigious as the Kennedy Center that’s on your same lot and you’re that polarizing that you would have to excuse yourself from that — it’s real query.”
Nothing but truth bullets from the incomparable Vivrant One. Hear the full interview down below.