Hip-Hop and Saturday Night Live

Saturday Night Live

For aspiring comedians Saturday Night Live is considered the holy grail. A lot of entertainers worked hard to get to that national spotlight, with the likes of Adam Sandler, Will Ferrell, and Chris Farley just to name a few. While SNL is known for their skits, you can’t leave out the amazing musicians that get to perform every night. Some of the best performances happen on SNL, and only those who can deliver get this honor, including Hip-hop artists. By being the first hip-hop artists to perform on the SNL stage, RUN DMC formed a strong bond between the comedy group and hip-hop in 1986. Other greats to hit the SNL stage include 2Pac, Snoop Dogg, Kanye West, DMX, and more. Chance The Rapper is the musical guest for December 12th, which makes him the very first independent artist to perform on this stage. With history being made, we decided to take a look at some of the best hip-hop and rap appearances on SNL to prepare for Chance’s performance.

Take a look below:

Beastie Boys – “Sure Shot’ 1994


” Sure Shot ” Live On SNL – 1994 from Porkys1982 on Vimeo.


This was the first Beastie Boy’s appearance on SNL, and they brought their vintage wild rock-rap style straight to the stage. Jumping around in puffy coats and wearing sideways visors, this is clearly a style only they could pull off.

2Pac – “California Love” in 1996



This is a legendary moment as Pac had to travel to his rival east side to deliver a performance with a lot of raw emotion, representing the west side to the fullest. Pac’s energy was absolutely through the roof as he performed a more amped up version of “California Love.” This performance was also during the year of Pac’s unfortunate death, creating a void in the rap game that will never be filled.

Lauryn Hill – “Doo Wop (That Thing)” 1998



As rare as it is for Ms. Lauryn Hill to make a TV appearance, her time at SNL shows how much artists value the program as Lauryn donned the stage and took total control. Performing an absolute classic, the whole vibe of everyone on stage was filled with soul and enthusiasm. She definitely did “that thing.”

Dr. Dre x Eminem – “Forget Dre” 1999



Dr Dre & Eminem “Forgot About Dre” Live… by WorldwideWestside


This is hip hop at its finest. Dre and Em on stage performed a classic. Em uses his Slim Shady flow and kills it, feeding off each others energy and taking the performance to the next level. At the time, this was just another accolade to their long history of success.

N.E.R.D. – “She Wants To Move” 2004


N.E.R.D. – She Wants to Move LIVE (SNL – 2004) from Pharrell’s Junebug on Vimeo


This is N.E.R.D’s only SNL appearance, but they make it count. With some of the best production ever done on their albums, this live set equally matches that feeling. It also reminds us that Pharrell has been killing the fashion game for a long time.

Eminem x Lil Wayne – “No Love” 2010



In 2010, two of the greatest figures in the rap game performed as joint musical guests a week before Christmas, making for a show of epic proportions. They came together and did “No Love,” exuding a definite a sight to see them sharing bars. With both also doing solo performances, Em started with “Won’t Back Down” and just as that song ended Weezy jumped right on stage and was led straight into “6 Foot 7 Foot,” leaving the stage rocking with energy.

Jay-Z – Medley in 2010




This Jay-Z medley brought in some of his biggest hits which included “03 Bonnie and Clyde,” “Public Service Announcement,” “On To The Next One,” “99 Problems,” and “Empire State of Mind.” The energy was great and the light show was absolutely wild. Anytime Hov performs in New York he’s gonna go above and beyond. Introduced by Betty White, later in the show Hov returned the favor by dedicating “Forever Young” to her.

Frank Ocean – “Thinkin Bout You” 2012



Frank and his falsetto rocked this performance of “Thinkin Bout You” off his Grammy award winning album Channel Orange. This kind of pure and stripped down performance is one all artists wish they could give. With old school arcade games setting the backdrop, this is a very Frank-esque performance that really makes us wonder where Frank is now. Frank if you’re reading this, drop the album. Please.

Drake – Host and Musical guest in 2014



Drake, one of the biggest superstars out right now, was given the opportunity in 2014 to accentuate his time in the limelight as the musical guest and host of SNL. Drake gave a killer performance of “Started From The Bottom” and he definitely held his own during the skits, as seen at his Bar Mitzvah skit above. When the “Hotline Bling” video dropped and blew up this year, SNL decided to do a parody of it that featured Donald Trump on the hook.

Kendrick Lamar – “i” 2014



“i” was the lead single off Kendrick’s critically acclaimed To Pimp A Butterfly and he really delivers here. As one of the best live performers around, Kendrick raps with such raw emotion as the music flows through him, moving as if he was possessed by the beat.

Kanye West – SNL 40



“Jesus Walks,” “Only One,” and “Wolves.” All in one performance. Kanye is a genius whether or not you want to admit it. Given the honor to perform on the SNL 40th special further solidifies his greatness. With such a unique performance style, Kanye turns this into a spectacle of art. First laying down, then standing, and for the finale he brings out Sia and Vic Mensa as they perform from their knees all in this box of light.

With all of these big names above, the talent and work ethic Chance has proves that an independent artist can appear on SNL. This could open the doors for more independent artists to get on shows like SNL, or for more artists to start and remain as independents. The success Chance has garnered by doing things his way is a dream artists wish they could have; making it all about the music, releasing all of his projects for free, and holding his open mics held in Chicago for kids to test out their art. You can only assume that Chance has something big planned for his performances this coming Saturday. If it’s anything like his appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert earlier this year, SNL will feel livelier than it ever has.

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