The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has revealed the performers and presenters for its forthcoming RIAA Honors: Pioneers of Hip-Hop event in Washington, D.C.
DJ Jazzy Jeff, Mix Master Mike and Rapsody are set to perform at the Sept. 14 celebration, which will honor the contributions of hip-hop genre pioneers Grandmaster Flash and MC Lyte as well as Universal Music Group’s Jeff Harleston (the evening’s label honoree) and House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries (policymaker honoree).
“At this year’s 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. “Congratulations and thank you, Grandmaster Flash, MC Lyte, Jeff Harleston and chairman Hakeem Jeffries for your contributions to this diverse musical landscape and setting the stage for creators to come.”
Slated to be held at the RIAA’s new Washington, D.C. headquarters, RIAA Honors: Pioneers of Hip-Hop is co-hosted by the National Museum of African American Music and Stupid Fly, with Billboard and Discus serving as reception sponsors.
Here’s a quick look at the honorees:
Grandmaster Flash – Heralded as the first DJ to play turntable as a musical instrument, the Bronx-raised artist “laid the groundwork for everything a DJ can do with a record today, other than just letting it play,” as stated in a press release. His band Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five eventually became the first hip-hop group ever to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, while Flash became the first DJ to receive the honor.
MC Lyte – The multi-hyphenate was the first rap artist ever to perform at New York’s Carnegie Hall and the first female rapper to have a Gold-certified single from the RIAA. She was also the first female solo rapper ever to be nominated for a Grammy Award. Her discography spans a total of 10 albums.
Jeff Harleston – The general counsel and executive vp of business & legal affairs at Universal Music Group has been with the company for 29 years. He recently served as interim CEO at Def Jam Recordings (2020-21) and co-chairs UMG’s social justice initiative, the Task Force for Meaningful Change. Among many other accomplishments, he also founded the Universal/Motown Fund endowment that provides financial assistance to artists from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s.
Chairman Hakeem Jeffries – The congressman is a member of the House Judiciary and Budget Committees and has served as chairman of the House Democratic Caucus since 2018. During his time in Congress, he played a pivotal role in crafting the Music Modernization Act and the Copyright Alternative in Small Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act, which created the Copyright Claims Board to resolve copyright disputes under $30,000 in the U.S. Copyright Office.
The first-ever RIAA honors were held on Capitol Hill in 2019 with honorees Miranda Lambert, Atlantic Records’ Lanre Gaba and Congressmen Steny Hoyer and Kevin McCarthy.