Las Vegas, NV – Touted as “Music’s Biggest Night,” the Grammy Awards are typically a premiere destination for anyone in the industry. While Kanye West, Drake, Nicki Minaj and other big name artists opted to skip the ceremony this year, there were still plenty of celebrities keeping seats warm in the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on Sunday (April 3).

But what was presumably intended to be a lighthearted affair carried a solemn undertone. Prior to John Legend performing his emotive single “Free,” Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy delivered a special video message addressing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The images on the screen evoked tears from the audience and reminded everyone just how fleeting life is.

Before viewers could find the Kleenex, a tribute to the late Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins kicked off the “In Memoriam” portion of the program. Once the names and photos of several prominent Hip Hop/rap artists, executives and other creatives started scrolling across the screen, more water works started to flow.

DMX, Biz Markie, Digital Underground’s Shock G, Young Dolph, Force MD’s Jesse D, Chucky Thompson and Virgil Abloh were among the many included in the tribute.

2021 was a particularly rough year for the Hip Hop/rap community. Out of the 35 people included on HipHopDX‘s annual“Remembering Those We Lost” article, almost two dozen of them were killed.

Young Dolph was just 36 when he was gunned down in his hometown of Memphis last November, while Drakeo The Ruler was fatally stabbed backstage at the Once Upon A Time in L.A. festival just a month later.

Remembering Those We Lost In 2021

There were many other rappers and Hip Hop figures who died of drug overdoses, poor health and cancer; from former Bad Boy rapper Black Rob and Kangol Kid of U.T.F.O. to Blackalicious MC Gift of Gab and the lovable Biz Markie.

While the Recording Academy neglected to include Drakeo, Kangol Kid and Gift Of Gab, the inclusion of Biz Markie, Young Dolph, Virgil Abloh, Jesse D and Shock G elicited plenty of applause from the crowd.