Smithsonian Channel™ and MTV News collaborate to launch “Meaning in Music,” exploring the origins and impacts of hip-hop

The new Smithsonian Channel™ and MTV Newsseries “Meaning in Music” explores the intersection of hip-hop with different genres and cultures, and how it’s made an impact on trends, politics, and societies at large. Host Dometi Pongo will interview a variety of Smithsonian experts, journalists, and musicians, such as Dwandalyn Reece, Curator of Music and Performing Arts at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History, journalist Tia Hill, and rapper Vic Mensa. Each episode aims to educate and entertain audiences through insightful analysis, revealing fascinating stories and surprising perspectives that weave together musical history to present day. The series premieres on Monday, August 16 on Smithsonian Channel’s YouTube,Facebook, and Instagram with new episodes each day, and across MTV News social media platforms including Facebook and Instagram.

WATCH: Meaning in Music | Season 1 Trailer

The series will also feature interviews with notable artists including Supaman, Fat Joe, Taboo and Big Freedia the Queen Diva. Dometi Pongo also sits down with journalists Candace McDuffie, Ivie Anieand Chrissy Rutherford, as well as Rob Markman, VP of Content Strategy at Genius. The five episodes additionally include interviews with various Smithsonian curators such as Samir Maghelli, Adriel Luis, OnRae Watkins, Crystal Marie Moten, Joshua Bell and Amalia Cordova.


  • AUG 16: Episode 1: Ladies First
    • Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion are today’s hip-hop icons–but could they succeed without previous pioneers like Ma Rainey and Lucille Bogan?
  • AUG 17: Episode 2: The Message
    • How did ‘Fight the Power’ become a template for hip hop’s mission to give a voice to those who had long been ignored?
  • AUG 18: Episode 3: It’s The Remix!
    • Sampling and remixing are staples of hip hop. Are they the secret sauce behind the genre’s fresh, modern sound?
  • AUG 19: Episode 4: So Fresh, So Clean
    • Run DMC were musical pioneers, but they were also fashion icons, paving the way for lucrative commercial collaborations.
  • AUG 20: Episode 5: We Rock The Mic
    • Who decides a song’s genre? The answer lies at the intersection of artistry, race and powerful music industry interests.

“Meaning in Music” is a new 5-part series created through a collaboration between Smithsonian Channel and MTV News exploring the evolution and impact of hip-hop through archival imagery, animations and original interviews.

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