Berklee celebrates Hip Hop’s 50th and it’s Boston area roots

Roxanne Shanté center stage with Berklee College's Dean of Africana Studies Dr. Emmett G. Price III right, Ph.D. and Public Enemy's Flava Flav left

Roxanne Shanté center stage with Berklee College’s Dean of Africana Studies Dr. Emmett G. Price III right, Ph.D. and Public Enemy’s Flava Flav left

written by Kathia Dawson Plus DJ Mo Wilks
photo curated by Bryan Edouard

As the month of November closed, Berklee College of Music – an institution known for developing premier music talent – recognized music pioneers of the past locally and nationally. Hip-Hop fans from and around the Boston metropolitan area filled the seats at the Berklee Performance Center, where the members of the Africana Studies hosted a showcase honoring the 50th Anniversary Celebration of Hip Hop as well as inducting the first class of the Berklee Hip-Hop Hall of Fame. The evening’s honorees included Boston’s own Prince Charles Alexander and Ed OG as well as national recording emcee/rapper and one of the first female emcees in the Hip Hop game Roxane Shanté, the headliner of the show.

Berklee College of Music Conservatory Ensemble

Berklee College of Music Conservatory Ensemble

emcee Amanda Shea

emcee Amanda Shea

The Performance Center room tone was set courtesy of one of Hip Hop’s signature elements: the DJ.  After the crowd was warmed up with familiar tracks, Berklee’s dean of the Africana Studies, Dr. Emmett G. Price III, provided the opening welcome to the sold out Berklee Performance center audience. Following Dr. Price’s welcome, the lead emcee/ local poet and host was the renowned 2022 Boston Music Award Spoken Word winner, Amanda SheaShea took to the stage and moved the crowd not only with her infectious energy, but her provocative spoken words as well. 

emcee Amanda Shea at Berklee Performance Center

emcee Amanda Shea at Berklee Performance Center

Amanda Shea initiated the festivities with heartfelt gratitude, extending thanks to all those in attendance.  A special shout-out was given to the Roxbury community eliciting applause from many in the crowd. She emphasized the significance of celebrating Hip-Hop and its profound impact on the Black community. Shea literally passed the mic to the future movers and shakers in music, Berklee students, to share their interpretations of selections from the evening’s honorees.

Berklee students from the College and Conservatory performed from the songbooks of Prince Charles and Ed OG. The students poured their energy into captivating performances dancing across the stage and igniting excitement in the crowd. They consisted of 2 guitar players, one keyboarded, three rappers that seamlessly transitioned between vocals and instrumental prowess. The stage was filled with rapping and singing. The mesmerizing performance, drew the audience’s attention in every direction. 

Oompa at Berklee College of Music

Oompa on stage at Berklee Performance Center

Following the Berklee ensemble, an emerging new local emcee – Oompa from Roxbury – controlled the stage, solidifying that  Boston’s Hip Hop future is in very good hands.  The 14-time nominated and 3 time Boston Music Award winner Oompa matched the playful production by bouncing across the stage while the lights bounced with them while also rapping about the struggles of the streets.  Oompa has been a performing fixture on the Boston scene for a number of years gracing the stages of local festivals such as BAMSFest and Boston Calling.

Prince Charles Alexander and Dean Dr. Emmett-Price III

Prince Charles Alexander and Dean Dr. Emmett-Price III

After Oopma’s standing ovation worthy performances, Dr. Price returned to the Berklee stage to commence the induction proceedings. The first inductee into the Hall of Fame was producer and Berklee professor Prince Charles Alexander. Alexander has the distinction of being one of the first Bostonians to produce a Hip Hop album. His career started as the lead of “Prince Charlees and the City Beat Band.” He released three records before focusing on audio engineering. He’s led a successful career, his clients include  Mary J. Blige, Destiny’s Child, Notorious B.I.G., Faith Evans, P.Diddy, Usher, Brian McKnight, and many others. He is a multi-Grammy nominee and a three time Grammy winner as a recording and mixing engineer. He has accumulated more than 40 platinum and gold certifications for record sales from the Recording Industry Association of America. He currently teaches courses in Berklee’s Music Production and Engineering Department.  Charles said during his acceptance speech,  “I will work tirelessly to push for hip hop to be recognized within academica for the valuable  human, musical, entrepreneurial and educational impact.” After his sincerely heartfelt speech, Dr. Price moved the ceremony to the hall’s next recipient Ed OG.  

Ed OG and Dean Dr. Emmett Price

Ed OG and Dean Dr. Emmett Price

Roxbury’s Ed OG, real name Edward Anderson, is one of only a select few early Hip Hop pioneers – rocking since the late 1980’s – to not only be successful internationally, but to proudly rep the Boston area. His group Ed OG and The Bulldogs – (an acronym for The Black United Leaders Livin’ Directly On Groovin Sounds) jazz-soul infused songs “I Got To Have It,” “Love Comes And Goes,” and “Be A Father To Your Child,” are Boston Hip Hop classics. “ I Got To Have It,” off his first album Life of a Kid in the Ghetto went to number one on the Billboard Rap Singles charts nationally. Ed O.G is still performing and producing with other Hip Hop artists locally and nationally such as Boston’s Fakts One and New York’s Pete Rock and the Juice Crew’s Masta Ace. Ed humbly accepted the induction and urged the Berklee crowd to keep Hip Hop in their hearts and keep believing the power of it moving forward.

The final induction was saved for pioneering female emcee and trailblazer Roxanne Shanté. Shanté, born Lolita Shante Gooden, was an inspiration to the plethora of female emcees who followed her when she single handedly took on U.T.F.O. in the infamous Roxanne Roxanne Hip Hop diss-track vinyl wars of the mid-1980’s.  Her 1984 single, “Roxanne’s Revenge,” was one of the first of its kind during Hip Hop’s pre-teen genre youth. It wasn’t rare for the reply, but it was definitely a first as a female emcee to oppose a male emcee. Gooden’s gift of gab grabbed attention at age 14. Shanté challenged other rap crews including New York’s Boogie Down Productions with KRS-1 as well as west coast area rappers like JJ FAD. She worked on projects with other recording artists like record label mate Biz Markie, and funk master Rick James.  Roxanne is a two-time Breast Cancer survivor.  She shared her love for music, and the struggles it took to get her success, the sexisim she faced, being a single mother, the people who cheated her out of money. WIth that said, she performed just as fearlessly. 

Roxanne Shanté and Flava Flav hug

Roxanne Shanté and Flava Flav hug

Roxanne Shanté, Flava Flav, and Dr. Emmett Price III

Roxanne Shanté, Flava Flav, and Dr. Emmett Price III center stage

Currently, Roxanne Shanté can be heard on L.L. Cool J’s ‘Rock The Bells’ channel on the Sirius/XM satellite radio network. Introducing and welcoming her into Berklee’s Hip Hop Hall of Fame was another genre icon, Public Enemy’s Flava Flav. Shanté, who didn’t have a prepared acceptance speech, revealed she usually speaks from the heart, emphasizing that
“Everything for me, including my life, is a freestyle.”  

Roxanne Shanté and DJ Cool V at Berklee Performance Center

Roxanne Shanté and DJ Cool V at Berklee Performance Center

After all three recipients happily received their Hall Of Fame medals and took photographs together, Shanté was backed by Biz Markie’s DJ CutMaster Cool V for a magical performance that saw her walk through the audience and interact with them. Roxanne took the Berklee crowd on a historic ride through not only some of her own hits, but Hip Hop’s golden era hits including Run DMC’s Sucker MC’s and Biz Markie’s “Just a Friend.” More importantly, she reminded everyone about the struggle, lifestyle and culture associated with inner city living. 

Ed OG accepting his Hall of Fame medal

Ed OG accepting his Hall of Fame medal

Berklee’s Hip Hop anniversary celebration revealed something that the Boston faithful inside the Performance Center already knew.  Hip Hop and Boston, are inextricably linked. Some of Hip Hop’s biggest supporters, performers and creatives have roots that originated right here inside Boston Massachusetts, be it Roxbury, Dorchester, or Mattapan. The event was a testament to the enduring influence and versatility of Hip Hop and serves as an affirmation of the power in uniting through music. 

As this celebratory year closes out, may we remember Hip Hop has outlasted early critics who deemed it wasn’t real music and just a passing fad. Hip Hop is the story of young Black America and has evolved into a national phenomenon of global importance and power. As Rakim so eloquently penned, “It ain’t where you’re from, it’s where you’re at!” Props to Hip Hop and Boston’s contributions to it.

Hip Hop 50th Anniversary: Snoop Dogg, Icon

By Kathia Dawson, Urban Coordinator


The world of hip-hop changed when Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr., better known as Snoop Dogg, entered the music industry. Over three decades, he’s become known for his distinctive style, laid-back flow and his ability to bridge generations with his music. On October 20th, 1971, a legend was born.


Hailing from Long Beach, California, Snoop embodies the sun-soaked vibes of the West Coast in his music and persona. He had an affinity for music from the age of six and honed that love for the rest of his life. He started along the path to musical stardom in the early 1990s when a tape from the collaborative group 213 that consisted of him, his two cousins and a friend landed in the hands of Dr. Dre. From then, Snoop was discovered. Snoop for his unique flavor with a distinctive, laid-back style that would later become his trademark.


Snoop Dogg’s big break came when he collaborated with hip-hop heavyweight Dr. Dre, who featured him on his single “Deep Cover,” and his landmark album, The Chronic, in 1992. In 1993, he signed to Death Row Records and released his first album “Doggystyle.” This album became an instant classic, entering the Billboard 200 at number one. Hit singles off the album included “Gin and Juice” and “What’s My Name?.” Snoop did it again in 1996, peaking on the Billboard 200 Pop and R&B album charts with his double platinum sophomore album, Tha Doggfather. The album featured longtime friend and rapper Tupac Shakur, aka “Makaveli,” who died a month before the album’s release.


Snoop Dogg’s talents don’t stop at being a musical powerhouse; he’s ventured into acting, brand spokesperson and cannabis advocate. He has a cannabis brand, “Leafs by Snoop,” as well as cooking show “Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party”.  Other endorsements include: Corona, Beyond Meat, Sodastream and Grubhub. In 2018, he also published his own cookbook.  Snoop purchased his former record company, Death Row Records and is planning to dive into film production.  He’s been featured in documentaries about Tupac and Biggie, played minor roles in Soul Plane, Scary Movie, and Turbo and reality television.


Snoop Dogg’s family consists of high school sweetheart wife Shante three adult children, five grandchildren.  Shante serves as her husband’s manager and co-creating the unisex scarf line, “The Broadus Collection”.  She is the owner of Boss Lady Entertainment, a music management company.


Snoop Dogg and Tupac met through their work at Death Row Records and became close friends in their time together. Snoop co-rapped in Tupac’s “2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted.” After Tupac’s death, Snoop became an unofficial torchbearer of not only Death Row Records but the west coast legacy as well. In 2017, Snoop inducted Tupac into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.


One of Snoop Dogg’s most remarkable qualities is his musical versatility.  He’s worked with artists from Pharrell Williams, on “Beautiful,” to Katy Perry, on “California Gurls.”  In 2012, Snoop Dogg turned into Snoop Lion when he released a Reggae album titled Reincarnated. In 2013, he collaborated with funk musician Dâm Funk for the album 7 Days of Funk. Snoop said in a 2014 interview with The Guardian, “When I’m recording as Snoopzila, I’m basically an offspring of Bootsy Collins.”  Snoop Dogg has had numerous successes working with R&B funk legend Charlie Wilson, of Gap Band fam — “One more day” and “Peaches n’ Cream,” just to name a few. Snoop even nicknamed Wilson “Uncle Charlie.” When commenting on Wilson in a press release, Snoop said “Uncle Charlie has always been a big inspiration for me… his testimony of what he’s overcome.”  The two also collaborated with Pharrell.


“Nuthin’ But A G Thang” (Dr. Dre, featuring Snoop Dogg) (1992). “One, two, three and to the fo.’ Snoop Doggy Dogg and Dr. Dre is at the do’” one of the most well-known intros in hip hop history.

“Deep Cover” (Dr. Dre, featuring Snoop Dogg) (1992). Dr. Dre’s introduced his protégé on the soundtrack “Deep Cover.” Snoop Dogg delivered right out of the gate with an instant classic.

“Gin and Juice” (1994). “Laid back” like the L.A. lifestyle and Snoop’s rapstyle.

“Vapors” (1996). From his sophomore album, Tha Doggfather, Snoop Dogg covered a hip-hop classic: Biz Markie’s “Vapors” and revealed his appreciation for 80’s hip-hop culture.

“Drop It Like It’s Hot” (featuring Pharrell) (2004). Snoop teamed up with super producer Pharrell whose golden touch provided one of the best Snoop Dogg songs of the 00s. The song is Snoop’s biggest hit to date debuting at No.1 on the Billboard 100.


Bootsy Collins
Rick James
Parliament Funkadelic
George Clinton
Biz Markie
Slick Rick


1994, “Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang” (with Dr. Dre) — Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group Nominated
1995, “Gin and Juice” — Best Rap Solo Performance Nominated
1996, “What Would You Do” (with Tha Dogg Pound) — Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group Nominated
2000, “Still D.R.E.” (with Dr. Dre) — Nominated
2001, “The Next Episode” (with Dr. Dre) — Nominated
2004, “Beautiful” (featuring Pharrell & Charlie Wilson) — Best Rap Song and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration Nominated
2005, “Drop It Like It’s Hot” (featuring Pharrell) — Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group and Best Rap Song Nominated
2009, “Sexual Eruption” — Best Rap Solo Performance Nominated; Best Rap Song Nominated
2011, Teenage Dream (as featured artist) — Album of the Year Nominated. “California Gurls”(with Katy Perry) — Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals Nominated
2014, Reincarnated — Best Reggae Album Nominated
2016, To Pimp a Butterfly (as featured artist) — Album of the Year Nominated


1994 Billboard Music Award for Top Male Artist
1994 MTV Video Music Award for Best Rap Video · Doggy Dogg World
1995 Soul Train Music Award for Best Rap Album · Doggystyle
2002 MTV Movie Award for Best Cameo · Training Day
2003 BET Award for Best Collaboration · Beautiful
2006 MTV Video Music Award for Best Dance Video · Buttons
2010 MTV Europe Music Award for Best Video · California Gurls
2015 MTV Video Music Award for Best Art Direction · So Many Pros
2016 BET Hip Hop I Am Hip-Hop Icon Award
2018 A Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
2019 BET Award for Best Gospel/Inspirational Artist · Blessing Me Again
2021 Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award


Snoop Dogg was chart-topping from the beginning, setting the scene for the rest of his successful career. He effortlessly bridges the gap between the soulful sounds of the ’70s and the gritty narratives of gangsta rap with his smooth delivery and laid-back charisma. His ability to adapt without compromising his style is what has led to having such a loyal fanbase.

His music not only pays homage to the funk and soul legends of the past but also propels these retro elements into the contemporary hip-hop scene, creating a distinctive blend that is both timeless and relevant. His role in the West Coast hip-hop scene started in the 1990s at Death Row Records, but doesn’t end there. His advocacy for cannabis, his charismatic energy and his adaptability to the ever-changing landscape of fame has made him an icon.

From his early days in Long Beach to becoming a global icon, Snoop Dogg has consistently pushed the boundaries of hip-hop and left an indelible mark on the culture. Snoop’s influence extends far beyond music, and his ability to stay relevant and evolve with the times showcases his lasting impact. Here’s to Snoop Dogg, a true hip-hop legend who continues to inspire and entertain us all.