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Here's Why RIAA Honors Is Celebrating MC Lyte and Other Hip-Hop Pioneers

Here's Why RIAA Honors Is Celebrating MC Lyte and Other Hip-Hop Pioneers

RIAA is giving these pioneers their flowers while they can still smell them!

From the first rap artist ever to perform at New York's Carnegie Hall to the congressman who crafted the Copyright Alternative in Small Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act, RIAA will be honoring those who made an impact on hip-hop culture this month at RIAA Honors: Pioneers of Hip-Hop. The first-ever honors were held on Capitol Hill in 2019 and included Kevin McCarthy, Steny Hoyer, Miranda Lambert, and Lanre Gaba.

This year's honors will be held at RIAA’s new headquarters in Washington, D.C. and co-hosted by the National Museum of African American Music and Stupid Fly. With so many music achievements under one roof, it's no surprise that Billboard is one of the sponsors!

MC Lyte is an honoree this year, and the first female rapper to have a Gold-certified single from the RIAA. With a discography that includes 10 albums, she's also the first female solo rapper to be nominated for a Grammy award. After proving her greatness with her own lyrics, she co-wrote theme songs for Fox’s “Dark Angel” and BET’s “Holla.” 

MC Lyte’s impact cannot be denied, but she isn’t the only one who will be celebrated on September 14th.

Bronx-raised artist, Grandmaster Flash, is also receiving his flowers from the RIAA for making an impact on hip-hop. His band, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, became the first hip-hop group to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Grandmaster Flash was the first DJ ever to receive this honor! Flash is also featured in the Smithsonian Museum of American History’s RECOGNIZE! exhibit, which includes LL Cool J, Erykah Badu and Common.

Although music pioneers will be celebrated, music achievements aren't the only things that will be recognized at RIAA Honors. "We are thrilled to celebrate pioneers who have defied obstacles, defined a genre and accelerated the growth of hip-hop to audiences across generations and geography,” said RIAA chairman and CEO Mitch Glazier in a statement announcing the event.

Universal Music Group's, Jeff Harleston, is also an honoree due to his contributions. Founding the Universal/Motown Fund, Harleston provides financial assistance to artists from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. He recently served as interim CEO at Def Jam Recordings and co-chairs UMG’s social justice initiative, the Task Force for Meaningful Change. In addition to serving on the RIAA Board of Directors, Harleston is a member of the Williams College Board of Trustees, the boards of the Berkeley Law Alumni Association and Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles.


The last honoree is Chairman Hakeem Jeffries. The congressman helped create the Copyright Claims Board to resolve copyright disputes under $30,000 and 
brought copyright laws in line with the streaming revolution. Thanks to Mr. Jeffries, even smaller artists can take solace in the fact that they are protected if their art is stolen. His contributions to music will not go overlooked this year. 

DJ Kool and Yo-Yo will be in attendance to present, and Dr. Dre and Missy Elliott will present virtually. But what's a music event without performances? Rapsody, DJ Jazzy Jeff, and Mix Master Mike are set to perform to help celebrate the honorees' impact on hip-hop culture - from the artists to the policymakers. 

RIAA, or the Recording Industry Association of America, protects artists' rights and creative freedom, safeguarding them from the negative impact of music theft. Because streaming has revolutionized the industry, RIAA also helps with streaming while maintaining industry standards. Artists are then celebrated for their artistic achievements through the Gold and Platinum Program. However, if you’re not an artist but the parent of a music lover, RIAA will also support you by providing you with tools you’ll need to make the right music decisions for your child(ren). 

Kudos to RIAA for celebrating those who changed hip-hop!