Hip-Hop Evolution

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Hip-Hop Evolution
Hip-Hop Evolution.jpg
Developed byBanger Films
Country of originCanada
Original language(s)English
No. of episodes8
Producer(s)Russell Peters, Scot McFadyen, Sam Dunn, Nelson George

Hip-Hop Evolution is a Canadian music documentary series that originally aired on HBO Canada in 2016.[1] Hosted by Canadian rapper and broadcaster Shad,[2] the series profiles the history of hip-hop music through interviews with many of the genre's leading cultural figures.[3] The series is produced by Russell Peters, Scot McFadyen, Sam Dunn and Nelson George. It won the 2016 Peabody Award,[4] and the 2017 International Emmy Award for Best Arts Programming.[5]

The series was screened at the 2016 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival[2] before being picked up for broadcast by HBO.[1] In December 2016, it was added to Netflix for international distribution.[3]


Hip-Hop Evolution features in-depth, personal interviews with the progenitors of DJing, rapping, and production, culminating in what is now taken to be Hip hop music and rap, adding to the existing understanding of hip-hop's earliest decades. Such original artists, producers, DJs, and promoters include DJ Kool Herc, Coke La Rock, Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five, Fab Five Freddy, Marley Marl, Afrika Bambaataa, Kool Moe Dee, Kurtis Blow, Doug E. Fresh, Whodini, Warp 9, DJ Hollywood, Spoonie Gee, The Sugarhill Gang, and Russell Simmons.

The first episode documents the history of the inceptive hip-hop party at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in The Bronx where DJ Kool Herc, who thus emerged as a godfather of the tradition, DJed his sister's birthday party.[6]

The series went on to feature some of the most influential artists of the genre, without whom its current form would not exist, such as Public Enemy, Beastie Boys, N.W.A, Ice-T, Rakim, Big Daddy Kane and LL Cool J, as well as documenting Schooly D, from Philadelphia, as the influence for Gangster Rap on the West Coast, as told by the words of Ice T. It limits it telling of the history at that point, as it documents that was the turning point in which Hip Hop had turned from an underground movement within music to a mainstream genre, that ripples its influence throughout contemporary culture.


The series garnered three Canadian Screen Award nominations at the 5th Canadian Screen Awards in 2017, for Best Biography or Arts Documentary Program or Series, Best Editing in a Documentary Program or Series (Steve Taylor and Mark Staunton) and Best Direction in a Documentary or Factual Series (Darby Wheeler). It won the awards for Best Biography or Arts Documentary and Best Editing.[7]


# Title Directed by Original air date
1"The Foundation"Darby Wheeler4 September 2016 (2016-09-04)
In the 1970s, DJ Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa, Grandmaster Flash and the first rhythmic rappers lay the foundations of hip-hop in the South Bronx
2"From the Underground to the Mainstream"Darby Wheeler11 September 2016 (2016-09-11)
Bootleg tapes capture the energy of live battles, the Sugarhill Gang releases a Top 40 hit, and hip-hop meets art punk in downtown New York
3"The New Guard"Darby Wheeler18 September 2016 (2016-09-18)
Run-DMC and Def Jam bridge the rap-rock divide. Innovators like Marley Marl and Rakim usher in a new sound, and Public Enemy raises consciousness
4"The Birth of Gangsta Rap"Darby Wheeler25 September 2016 (2016-09-25)
Ice-T and N.W.A put West Coast rap on the map, documenting the reality of life in South Central L.A. Dr. Dre tops the charts with "The Chronic"
5"The Southern Way"Darby Wheeler19 October 2018 (2018-10-19)
2 Live Crew popularizes the Miami bass sound and scores a victory for free speech. The Geto Boys put Houston on the map, paving the way for UGK
6"Out The Trunk: The Bay"Darby Wheeler19 October 2018 (2018-10-19)
In the Bay Area, Too Short channels pimp culture, MC Hammer becomes rap's first pop star, and Digital Underground introduces the world to Tupac Shakur
7"Do The Knowledge"Darby Wheeler19 October 2018 (2018-10-19)
KRS-One makes his mark at New York's legendary Latin Quarter club. A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul cultivate an Afrocentric, jazzy style
8"New York State Of Mind"Darby Wheeler19 October 2018 (2018-10-19)
In the early 1990s, a new wave of East Coast artists emerges, led by Nas, Wu-Tang Clan and the Notorious B.I.G.


  1. ^ a b HBO Canada takes Wheeler’s “Hip-Hop Evolution”. RealScreen, August 17, 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Canadian-Produced Documentary Series Hip-Hop Evolution to Premiere in Toronto". The Fader, March 16, 2016.
  3. ^ a b ""Hip Hop Evolution" Documentary Arrives On Netflix". HipHopDX, December 7, 2016.
  4. ^ "Hip-Hop Evolution". Peabody Awards. Retrieved July 27, 2018.
  5. ^ "Canadian documentary series Hip-Hop Evolution wins International Emmy Award". Toronto Star. November 21, 2017.
  6. ^ Batey, Angus (2011-06-12). "DJ Kool Herc DJs his first block party (his sister's birthday) at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue, Bronx, New York". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2016-12-06.
  7. ^ "Canadian Screen Awards 2017: The National, CBC Olympics win top awards". CBC News, March 8, 2017.

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