It was a sight many thought they’d never see: hip-hop legends from across generations sharing the stage, and the spotlight, together during the 2023 GRAMMY Awards.
The star-studded segment, celebrating the genre’s 50 years, aired during the GRAMMYs prime-time broadcast (Sunday, Feb. 5), was produced by Questlove and included performances from veteran artists and newcomers alike.
The tribute lasted some 13 minutes and included appearances from Big Boi, Busta Rhymes with Spliff Star, De La Soul, DJ Drama, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Missy Elliott, Future, GloRilla, Grandmaster Flash, Grandmaster Mele Mel & Scorpio/Ethiopian King, Ice-T, Lil Baby, Lil Wayne, The Lox, Method Man, Nelly, Public Enemy (with Chuck D and Flavor Flav reuniting), Queen Latifah, Rahiem, Rakim, RUN-DMC, Salt-N-Pepa and Spinderella, Scarface, Swizz Beatz, and Too $hort.
LL COOL J introduced the performance and Black Thought narrated.
GRAMMYs hip-hop tribute set list:
Black Thought introduction
Grandmaster Flash, “Flash to the Beat”/“The Message”
Run-DMC, “King of Rock”
LL Cool J and DJ Jazzy Jeff, “I Can’t Live Without My Radio”/“Rock the Bells”
Salt-N-Pepa, “My Mic Sounds Nice”
Rakim, “Eric B. Is President”
Chuck D and Flavor Flav of Public Enemy, “Rebel Without a Pause”
Black Thought and LL Cool J interlude, “El-Shabazz (Skit)”/“Rump Shaker”
Posdnuos of De La Soul, “Buddy”
Scarface, “Mind Playing Tricks on Me”
Ice-T, “New Jack Hustler (Nino’s Theme)”
Queen Latifah, “U.N.I.T.Y.”
Method Man, “Method Man”
Big Boi of Outkast, “ATLiens”
Busta Rhymes, “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See”/“Look at Me Now”
Missy Elliott, “Lose Control”
Nelly, “Hot in Herre”
Too Short, “Blow the Whistle”
The Lox and Swizz Beatz, “We Gonna Make It”
Lil Baby, “Freestyle”
GloRilla, “F.N.F. (Let’s Go)”
Lil Uzi Vert, “Just Wanna Rock”
Yes, many have noted favorite artists who were missing. But considering how many did appear, the tribute was a massive achievement.
“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the hell out of this monumental medley,” writes Alphonse Pierre on Pitchfork. “It may have been a bit disorienting watching them attempt to tell the entire history of rap music through 15-second snippets, but every needle drop was a thrill anyway.”
In addition, LL Cool J presented a brand new award, the Dr. Dre Global Impact Award, introduced by the Recording Academy in coordination with the Black Music Collective. And this year’s award recipient was none of than Dr. Dre himself.
After the awards portion of the ceremony ended, with Harry Styles walking away with Album of the Year (see the list of 2023 GRAMMY winners and nominees), the show turned its attention to DJ Khaled and his song “God Did.” Starting inside then taking the music outside the arena, it was another all-star turnout that lasted another good long time (8 minutes) and included Rick Ross, Lil Wayne, John Legend, Fridayy, and Jay-Z (whose verse lasted more than half the song).
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