In an interview with TIDAL, Hov admitted he was debating whether the Grammys audience could stomach all four minutes of his guest verse, but decided to go for it because of the song’s monumental impact on Hip Hop.
“I thought about it, I was in my head and I just broke down and said, ‘You know, it’s a four-minute verse.’ Again, for the culture, for Hip Hop, we got to do that,” he said. “This ain’t your traditional song. … It’s not your traditional structure of what you think a song that would be nominated for Song of the Year would sound like. It’s not what you expect. And for the culture and for Hip Hop, we got to do that.”
He continued: “We owe that. This thing that changed our lives. We got to do that. A four-minute verse performed at the Grammys. We owe it to the culture, and it ain’t even a burden. It’s a blessing. It’s easy and fun.”
JAY-Z’s performance closed out the 2023 Grammys and took place outside the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles, where he was joined by DJ Khaled, Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, John Legend and Fridayy. Seated next to loyal associates “OG Juan” Perez and Emory Jones behind a lavish dinner table, Hov recreated Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper while reciting his show-stealing verse.
“God Did” was nominated for three awards — Song of the Year, Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance — but went home empty handed. Kendrick Lamar’s “The Heart Part 5” won the aforementioned rap categories while Song of the Year went to Bonnie Raitt’s “Just Like That.”
Elsewhere in his TIDAL interview, Hov spoke about his past issues with the Recording Academy and how his stance has changed over the years.
“I remember in ’99 when they wouldn’t even let us get onstage, nothing. I boycotted. It was my year. I sold five million. No. 1 for five weeks, never done before. Hard Knock Life,” he said. “I didn’t go when they shut out DMX, who released two albums. The truth is, we grew up wanting to be on the Grammys, and it was our goal. We just want them to get it right. That’s what we want.”
He continued: “Obviously it’s music and it’s all subjective, but you got to be in the ballpark. That’s all we want. We just want them to get it right because we love it so much. We grew up watching Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder. Stevie Wonder won three out of four years in a row. Come on, man. They got that shit right.
“It was no politics. It was just like everybody knew when Stevie came out, sit down. That’s what we want. Just get it right, because we love it so much. That’s why there’s so much emotion around it. If we didn’t care, there wouldn’t be any emotion.”
JAY-Z wasn’t the only rap legend to grace the stage at the 2023 Grammy Awards. Sunday’s ceremony also played host to a massive performance celebrating the 50th anniversary of Hip Hop, which boasted appearances from LL COOL J, Run-DMC, Public Enemy, De La Soul, Missy Elliott, Busta Rhymes, Too $hort, Lil Baby and many more.
Meanwhile, Quavo paid tribute to his late nephew and Migos groupmate TakeOff with a heartfelt rendition of “Without You” during the “In Memoriam” segment — although a reported backstage fight between Huncho and Offset apparently threatened to derail the moving performance.
On the awards side, Kendrick Lamartook home Best Rap Album for Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers, Drakeearned his first Grammy in four years (despite not submitting any material of his own) thanks to his “Wait For U” collaboration with Future, which won Best Melodic Rap Performance, and Dr. Dre was honored with the inaugural Dr. Dre Global Impact Award.