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2023 Grammys Hip-Hop 50 Tribute Performance

Questlove Explains Why the Grammys Hip-Hop 50 Tribute Didn't Include More of Your Favorite Artists

2023 Grammys Hip-Hop 50 Tribute Performance
Image Source: Getty / JC Olivera

The Grammys finally gave hip-hop the platform it deserves at this year's ceremony on Feb. 5, rolling out the biggest star-studded tribute of all time in honor of its 50th anniversary. The powerful segment was narrated by Black Thought and introduced by LL Cool J as old-school hip-hop artists united on stage at the Arena in Los Angeles for an explosive time capsule of rap history.

The performance featured appearances from legends like Missy Elliott, Big Boi, Busta Rhymes, De La Soul, DJ Drama, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Grandmaster Flash, Grandmaster Mele Mel & Scorpio/Ethiopian King, Ice-T, The Lox, Method Man, Nelly, Public Enemy, Queen Latifah, Rahiem, Rakim, Run-DMC, Salt-N-Pepa, Spinderella, and Too $hort (yes, that many artists), all of whom performed some of their greatest hits on stage.

New-school acts like Lil Baby, GloRilla, and Lil Uzi Vert also joined the explosive Grammys performance, which was produced by Questlove (who also served as music director). However, some fans have since asked why the big tribute didn't include more of their favorite hip-hop artists. Following critiques about excluding certain artists from the performance, Questlove explained on Twitter how the tribute's lineup was finalized.

"general ?s answered about last night: (some are asking if we are playing erasure games so uh....yeah I don't play that," he wrote in one tweet, "so---in answering the questions of 'why wasn't dada there?') 1. already booked 2. declined our offer straight up 3. or a third option im not gonna get into."

"Just understand we literally tried to SQUEEEEEEEZE everyone in."

Questlove noted that "we decided to eschew those who passed away, & give flowers to the living" and "WAY too many legends passed so someone's estate was gonna be heated." He also said that he and the Recording Academy were "aware of playing our biases out" by only acknowledging certain artists and time periods during the 12-minute performance.

The producer concluded his series of tweets by writing, "now granted they might not be your favorite (and there were 2 crucial 11th hour (more like 10 mins before taping) cancellations that mighta made it look like we were biased in our choices. but just understand we literally tried to SQUEEEEEEEZE everyone in."

Hip-hop and the Grammys have had a notoriously rocky relationship, as it took the Recording Academy more than a decade after hip-hop's birth (Aug. 11, 1973) to recognize the genre at its annual award show (the first rap Grammy was awarded to DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince, aka Will Smith, in 1989). However, it seems the Grammys are trying to rectify history.

"For five decades, hip-hop has not only been a defining force in music, but a major influence on our culture," said Harvey Mason Jr., CEO of the Recording Academy, in a statement, per 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."

Hip-hop's impact was acknowledged throughout the 2023 Grammy Awards. Kendrick Lamar swept up wins in almost all of the rap categories, while DJ Khaled and JAY-Z performed their Grammy-nominated collaboration "God Did" alongside Rick Ross, Lil Wayne, John Legend, and Fridayy at the close of the ceremony. Beyond that, Billboard reported that the Recording Academy, in partnership with CBS, is also set to debut a special hip-hop music event later this year.

See photos from the Grammys' tribute to hip-hop and all of Questlove's tweets ahead.

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