2023 Grammys: Hip-hop legends honor the genre’s 50-year history

Once shunned by the Recording Academy, Hip-hop was honored with a tribute to the genre’s 50th anniversary at the 2023 Grammy Awards on Sunday, with performances by influential artists from past, present and future.

LL Cool J, who boycotted the awards show along with other high-profile rappers in 1989 when the academy didn’t televise its first rap award, led Sunday night’s all-star salute celebration.

Hip-hop pioneers Grandmaster Flash, Grandmaster Melle Mel and Rahiem of Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five stormed the stage with a hard-hitting snippet from their 1982 single “The Message.”

Other performances have been joined by big names in ’80s hip-hop, including Run-DMC, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Public Enemy and Ice T, the latter of which is often referred to as “the godfather of gangsta rap.”

Big acts that rose to fame in the 1990s were also represented, with a strong contingent from New York City and the East Coast including Busta Rhymes with Spliff Star, De La Soul, Method Man of the Wu Tang Clan, Rakim, Salt-N -Pepa the Lox and Queen Latifah and Missy Elliott. 1990s artists also included Houston’s Scarface and Bay Area’s Too Short.

When Method Man spat bars during the performance, Jay-Z could be seen in the crowd bobbing his head, smiling and rapping the lyrics. DJ Khaled also nodded his approval, raising and waving a lighter once during Busta Rhymes’ performance before the Brooklyn legend launched into one of his signature rapid-fire deliveries.

Representing the 2000s were artists Nelly, Outkast’s Big Boi, and DJ Drama. Representative of the 2010s and present were Swizz Beatz, Lil Wayne, Lil Baby, Lil Uzi Vert and GloRilla.

“I might have Obama gray hair by the end of the night,” Questlove – real name Ahmir Khalib Thompson – jokingly told E! Correspondent Laverne Cox on the Grammys red carpet. “This is 14-year-old Ahmir, bringing his jukebox with what he heard as a kid. But it’s also all-encompassing because it’s from my generation, from future generations, from Gen Z. Everyone’s included, so this is…a special moment.”

Ahead of the performance, Questlove, who produced and curated the performance with his band The Roots, described hip-hop as “a driving force in music and culture” that has “made an immeasurable impact on our culture and our world.”

“The first day of rehearsals was nothing but a love fest,” he said in a press release. “It was DMC gushing about Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five… It’s a family reunion.”

The Recording Academy didn’t always value hip-hop. In 1989, the Grammys didn’t televise the rap awards ceremony. “If they don’t want us, we don’t want them,” Salt-N-Pepa said that year while boycotting the show. Despite the omission, a rap album spent most of the following year’s weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard chart, The Times’ LZ Granderson wrote in a recent column marking the genre’s 50th anniversary.

“That’s because the sound came from a people whose voices could never be silenced,” Granderson wrote, leading the birth of hip-hop to DJ Kool Herc’s house parties at 1520 Sedgwick Ave. back in the Bronx in 1973. “This is why black music is described in the 1619 Project documentaries as having an ‘elusive spirit.’ Hip-hop may be 50 years old, but its lineage goes back much further.”

The importance of the night did not escape the pioneers of the genre.

“The Grammys haven’t respected hip-hop for even that long, and to be here now, to be so honored, we absolutely take it,” Ice T told People correspondents Jeremy Parsons and Janine Rubenstein on the red carpet.

“Think about it, it’s kind of come full circle, from recognition at the Grammys to having our own moment to celebrate 50 years of what I like to call ‘the best music in the world,'” Nelly Sie , which performed on Sunday night, also told People on the red carpet.

“It’s only right,” Queen Latifah told Cox and E! on the red carpet before joining the performance as well. “We had to fight to get into the Grammys a while back so it’s great to be here to celebrate in front of the world with people who have been my mentors.”

Public Enemy’s Flava Flav, who showed up with one of his iconic chains and also performed on Sunday, exclaimed on the red carpet, “This is for everyone who said hip-hop wasn’t going to last!”

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/music/story/2023-02-05/grammys-2023-hip-hop-celebration 2023 Grammys: Hip-hop legends honor the genre’s 50-year history

Sarah Ridley

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