In 1973, a back-to-school party in the Bronx, New York, ignited a cultural revolution. Armed with two turntables, performing artist DJ Kool Herc infused rhythm into the night, and at that moment, the hip-hop movement was born.

Fast forward 50 years, and the beat of hip-hop resonates far beyond the streets of New York. It’s a rhythm that echoes in the heart of Lexington, Kentucky, where the golden anniversary of hip-hop was celebrated with style and soul.

Mayor Linda Gorton took the occasion to officially proclaim August 11, 2023, as “Lexington Hip Hop Day.” Her declaration was a powerful tribute to the art form’s transformative legacy:

“Whereas, in 1973, Hip Hop was created to be a celebratory culture that told stories of poor brown and black people living in the inner cities of our country; and Whereas, Hip Hop documents and represents the communities of all races, cultures, and walks of life; and Whereas, Lexington has a long, rich history of Hip Hop artists who use this art form to be a voice for the voiceless.”

At the heart of Lexington’s vibrant hip-hop community stands the Lyric Theatre, the site of the state’s longest-running indie hip-hop showcase, “Brown Sugar.” Hosted by the dynamic director of “One Lexington,” Devine Carama, the event was a dazzling display of the genre’s original elements: DJ, emcee, dance, and graffiti.

Carama, an impassioned advocate for hip-hop’s authenticity, kicked off the event with a “cipher,” a freestyle rapping session. He reminded the audience, “Way before record labels, way before the money labels, way before the clout, it started in a park. It started on the street corners, and it started with the music and the rhyme.”

The night was alive with creativity as different artists took turns passing around ‘an invisible microphone.’ Among the many talented voices, a young female artist, Heavenly Hyman, known as “Star Bookie,” shone brightly.

“I just wanted to celebrate the 50 years of hip-hop and just how much it means to me,” Star Bookie expressed, her words resonating with the dreams she’d nurtured since she was five.

Star Bookie’s manager, Terry Demphord, reflected on hip-hop’s enduring power, “They thought they wrote it off, but over the years, it’s been able to take care of families, build generational wealth, and save lives.”

The event “Brown Sugar” was more than a celebration; it was a reverent homage to hip-hop’s essence. A rich lineup of live performances, including Gem Rats, Q-Bizz Pooda, Star Bookie, Devine Carama, JK-47, Tony Wavy, 13 Five, and R.O.C. (Respect Original Creation), brought the house down.

In a historic gesture, the Lyric Theatre allowed artists to perform in the 2nd-floor gallery for the first time, a fitting honor for a night that celebrated the unbreakable spirit of hip-hop.

Lexington’s Hip Hop Day was a triumph, a testament to a movement that began in the inner cities but grew to embrace and empower communities worldwide. Through the beats and rhymes, the city saluted hip-hop, honoring an art form that continues to be a voice for the voiceless, a beat for the heart, and a soul for the dreamers.