LL COOL J and Curated by Questlove, the Hip Hop 50 Tribute at the 65th Annual Grammy Awards was kicked off by Black Thought backed by the rest of The Roots crew. With DJ Jazzy Jeff and DJ Drama holding down the turntables, a parade of artists starting with the Furious Five and Run-DMC kicked off a journey celebrating the genre’s full history.
Following acts like De La Soul, Queen Latifah, Public Enemy and Rakim, the show moved into the late ’90s and early 2000s with appearances by Method Man, The Lox, Missy Elliott and Nelly. The show was closed out by GloRilla, Lil Baby and Lil Uzi Vert representing the current generation of Hip Hop talent.
At the end of the performance, LL COOL J returned with a message for the crowd.
— HipHopDX (@HipHopDX) February 6, 2023
“From The Bronx to the five boroughs, to the West Coast to the Heartland; overseas to Europe, to Africa, to Asia; TikTok, whatever’s next,” he said. “Because thanks to the 33 Hip Hop artists on stage and the countless more we love, Hip Hop is a global platform today. We’re celebrating. Happy 50th anniversary to Hip Hop, baby!”
On January 31, Questlove announced that he would be joining forces with Nas’ Mass Appeal to plan a special performance that would include “some of the biggest names from the genre coming together to celebrate Hip Hop history.”
“Hip Hop has been a driving force in the music and the culture,” Questlove said in part. “It’s had an immeasurable impact on our culture and our world and I’ve had the great privilege of co-curating this thing with the Roots and many others that are gonna join us that night.”
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“For five decades, Hip Hop has not only been a defining force in music, but a major influence on our culture,” Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. relayed in a statement (via Billboard) . “Its contributions to art, fashion, sport, politics, and society cannot be overstated.
“I’m so proud that we are honoring it in such a spectacular way on the Grammy stage. It is just the beginning of our yearlong celebration of this essential genre of music.”
Ironically, several of the legacy artists who participated in the televised celebration were part of a group of musicians who boycotted the Grammys in 1989, when the Recording Academy decided not to televise its first ever Hip Hop category.
The tribute wasn’t without its share of hiccups, with several viewers taking to social media with gripes about a broadcast error that saw Method Man’s performance interrupted by a commercial that caused many to miss a chunk of the special segment. When the CBS broadcast resumed for those viewers, Busta Rhymes had nearly completed his portion of the set.
The Grammy Awards tribute was just one of several special events planned to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Hip Hop, which is universally accepted to have been brought to life on August 11, 1973, when DJ Kool Herc introduced the break beats that would give birth to the genre at a back to school party hosted by his sister Cindy Campbell.
In November, Grandmaster Flash,Roxanne Shante and other rap legends have visited New York City to announce planned celebrations for Hip Hop’s 50th anniversary this year.
Photos snapped at New York’s City Hall showed numerous rap pioneers – Flash, Shante, Slick Rick, and Master Gee included – standing alongside the city’s current Mayor Eric Adams as they spoke about the celebrations planned in coordination with Bronx’s Universal Hip Hop Museum, which will finally open its doors in 2024.
While it’s still unclear what events the city has planned, Shanté touched on the timeline for the events when she took to the podium and said the city has 50 separate events planned over the course of 50 days.
“When they first approached me and told me, ‘Listen, what we’re going to do is we are going to do 50 events, 50 days celebrating 50 years of Hip Hop,’ I was like, ‘That’s a lot of 50s,’ the rap legend said.
Flash chimed in later in the event, calling it an honor to be celebrating 50 years of the genre he helped birth.