Grammy’s Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop Celebrated Every Angle Of The Culture

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As the month marking the close of the 50th-anniversary celebrations of hip-hop approaches its end, the Recording Academy, in partnership with Jesse Collins Entertainment and CBS, hosted a Grammy Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop concert at the YouTube Theater in Inglewood, CA on Nov. 8 and was broadcast on Sunday, December 10th.

Last February, during the 2023 Grammy Awards, rap pioneers stole the spotlight on the grand stage with a star-studded performance to celebrate hip-hop’s 50th Anniversary. In a special segment dedicated to honoring the golden era of the genre, hip-hop icons Ice-T (“New Jack Hustler (Nino’s Theme)”), LL COOL J, and the Roots’ Black Thought (“El Shabazz Skit”), De La Soul (“Buddy”), and Scarface (“My Mind’s Playing Tricks On Me”) guided fans through the diverse flavors of hip-hop across the decades. 

Interestingly, one obvious omission from the performance was Will Smith and DJ Jazzy Jeff, who were the first to win a “Best Rap Performance Grammy” in 1989 for “Parents Just Don’t Understand.” Exactly one year later, the duo achieved the historic feat of being the first hip-hop act to grace the Grammy stage. Smith expressed gratitude during the performance, dedicating it to the fellow rappers who supported them in the previous year, playing a crucial role in earning them the privilege to stand on that prestigious stage. His words preceded a performance with D.J. Jazzy Jeff as they delved into the rendition of “I Think I Can Beat Mike Tyson.” Past scandals that have become synonymous with the Grammy and Oscar-winning emcee over the past several years show that the Philadelphia native remains a pioneer within the genre.

According to music lover, drummer for The Roots Questlove and curator for the performance, the highly successful rapper turned actor was busy shooting mandatory scenes for Bad Boys 4. Thankfully, Smith and DJ Jazzy Jeff closed the night out with performances of classics, including “Summertime,” “Brand New Funk,” “Miami,” and even The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’s theme song. 

At the beginning of the event hosted by LL Cool J with appearances from Regina Hall and Seth Rogan, Queen Latifah joined J.J. Fad, MC Lyte, Roxanne Shanté, Latto, Remy Ma and more for a melody dedicated to the women of hip hop. Other melodies included one highlighting the best of West Coast (DJ Quik, E-40, Too $hort, YG,  DJ Mustard, Warren G, Lady of Rage, Roddy Ricch) and the entire South (Boosie Badazz, Three 6 Mafia, GloRilla, T.I.). Other performers during the night included Public Enemy, Black Thought, Digable Planets, Black Sheep, De La Soul, Common, Arrested Development (who won the first Best New Artist Grammy in hip-hop in 1993), and more. 

The executive producers for the special include Shawn Gee, Dionne Harmon, Claudine Joseph, LL COOL J, Fatima Robinson, Jeannae Rouzan-Clay, and Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson from Two One Five Entertainment. Marcelo Gama is credited as the director of the special.

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