The 40 Biggest Hip-Hop Moments in Pop Culture History

17. Three 6 Mafia Wins an Oscar

Date: March 5, 2006

The Moment: At the 2006 Academy Awards, previously only rap-famous Memphis group Three 6 Mafia became the first rap artists to perform at the Oscars after "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp," the song they'd written for 2005's Hustle & Flow, was nominated for the Best Original Song Oscar (it went on to win).

The Impact: The win was the only mainstream movie accolade for Hustle & Flow, but its status as the first real non-pop rap act Oscar winner not only made Eminem's win for "Lose Yourself" from 8 Mile pale in comparison, but it sealed the reputation of Hustle & Flow as one of the more legendary entries in the hip-hop film canon.

The Upshot: The Academy's move to award the song was widely seen as a progressive step for the organization, which has since gone on to shake the old ways of awarding "Oscar-movies" and instead beginning to recognize films that had equal parts impact with critics and with the general public (like Heath Ledger's performance in The Dark Knight, or The Departed or Argo winning Best Picture).

The highbrow love for Three 6 Mafia started a renaissance for the group that's paid in dividends since. They got a cut on Justin Timberlake's smash 2006 album FutureSex/LoveSounds ("Chop Me Up"). They had a minor hit of an MTV show in 2007. And just last year, founding group member Juicy J's solo cut "Bandz a Make Her Dance" was a smash hit. In other words, given the opportunity to prove that their win wasn't a fluke, they did.

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