The distinguished “I Am Hip Hop" award honor is given every year at the BET Hip Hop Awards to one emcee whose career has set an example of what it means to be hip hop. Over the years, some of the most iconic figures in the business have earned the title, including Master P., Mc Lyte, Lil Kim, and more.
Ahead of this year’s event, which is slated to be yet another unforgettable night in hip hop, check out five of the most legendary “I Am Hip Hop” honorees.
The No Limit Record label founder was selected for the 2020 Hip Hop Awards “I Am Hip Hop” for his nearly three-decade-long career as not only an entertainer but also a successful entrepreneur whose influence is visible throughout the very fabric of hip-hop culture.
During his acceptance speech, the New Orleans rap icon spoke about generational wealth, what inspires him, and advice on how others can be a force of change within their communities. "I want to let the people know that [by] watching my story, [they] don't [have to] be afraid to change and grow up. That's what the Lord has blessed me with," the 50-year-old said. "Your story could be even greater than mine if you don't be afraid to put the work in."
West Coast legend Ice Cube established a career in rap and broke down barriers, unlike no other artists, as a member of the iconic NWA music group consisting of “A Good Day” rapper, Arabian Prince, Dr. Dre, and the late Eazy-E.
After a trailblazing career in music, the star ventured off into film and released his first ever movie, Friday, which became a cultural cult classic.
Hip hop’s Queen Bee accepted the “I Am Hip Hop” at the 2019 ceremony honoring the Brooklyn native’s undeniable impact on rap music. In her acceptance speech, she thanked all her supporters and touched on how much the late B.I.G impacted her.
"I don't know if any of yall know how it feels to have an angel following you all around all the time, but that's Biggie," she said, pointing to the sky. "I'm going to always love him, I'm always going to ride for him, I don't play about him, that's just what it is," she continued. "I love you to the Heavens, Biggie."
Louisiana native Lil Wayne accepted his flowers during the 2018 Hip Hop Awards as the recipient of the “I Am Hip Hop” honors. Joined on stage by his daughter, Reginae, and his mother, the “Misunderstood” emcee, dedicated the outstanding award to the "people that refuse.”
"People who refused to stop supporting me, the people who refused to see me as not putting an album out in six years. You guys respected me; you guys supported me, you came to every show, you respect every album, every feature," he shared.
In 2013, Brooklyn native and rap trailblazer MC Lyte accepted the distinguished “I Am Hip Hop” award. Making her debut into the music world at only 17 with her iconic record "I Cram To Understand U (Sam),” released in 1988, solidified the female emcee as a serious artist who sought to bring about awareness to the issues affecting her community at the time including drug abuse.
During her acceptance speech, she called for the protection of Black women telling the men, “we are depending on you.” she added, "We need you to protect us when no one will. So stop cursing us out all the time, okay? Find some love for us somewhere; God bless." Elsewhere, she told women, "And ladies, if you want to be treated like a queen, act like one."