Billboard exclusively revealed that MTV is set to celebrate the 50th anniversary of hip-hop with MTV Unplugged Presents: A Hip-Hop 50th Celebration of Jersey’s Finest on Thursday, December 14 at 9 p.m. EST/PST.
On Friday, December 15, BET will encore the special at 8 p.m. EST/PST. The show will receive another encore on VH1 on Tuesday, December 19 at the same time.
A Hip-Hop 50th Celebration of Jersey’s Finest will also include appearances from Naughty By Nature’s Treach, Poor Righteous Teachers, Heather B, and The Sugarhill Gang, with more performances from Lady Luck and Lords of the Underground. Emmy winner Adam Blackstone will handle musical direction for the special, which will be taped at the famed Newark Symphony Hall.
It’s been a very exciting month for Queen Latifah. Shortly before the MTV Unplugged announcement, the superstar MC was celebrated at the 2023 Kennedy Center Honors. The Queen received the award alongside Sir Barry Gibb, Dionne Warwick, celebrated soprano Renée Fleming, and Billy Crystal.
With President and First Lady Biden both in attendance, the event featured host and 2017 honoree Gloria Estefan, as well as Michael Bublé, Dove Cameron, Ariana DeBose, Robert De Niro, Sheila E, Missy Elliott, Cynthia Erivo, Whoopi Goldberg, Gladys Knight, Jay Leno, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Rita Moreno, Ego Nwodim, Rob Reiner, Meg Ryan, and Kerry Washington.
Latifah became the first female rapper to receive Honors. Rita Moreno and Kerry Washington explained why during their moving tributes, before a who’s-who of rap and hip-hop icons including Monie Love, MC Lyte, D-Nice, Yo-Yo, and Rapsody turned in a medley including Latifah’s “U.N.I.T.Y.” and “Ladies First.”
The rap royal told Billboard that she was taking in the unique experience before the event. “It’s trippy to be here for myself tonight,” she said. “I feel very honored. I’m very, very humbled. Being honored the same year as hip-hop’s 50th anniversary? Icing on the cake.”