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2023 Grammys Celebrates 50 Years of Hip-Hop With an All-Star Performance

Billboard 2/6/2023 Carl Lamarre
© Provided by Billboard

The 65th Annual Grammy Awards on Sunday (Feb. 5) celebrated hip-hop history with a behemoth of a performance. Following Dr. Dre’s acceptance of the first-ever Dr. Dre Global Impact Award, dozens of artists graced the stage to showcase hip-hop’s evolution over the last 50 years. Curated by The Roots’ Questlove, the Grammys brought out a diverse all-star cast and turned the ceremony into a full-fledged house party.


The all-encompassing performance covered every era beginning with Grandmaster Flash’s “Flash to the Beat” and “The Message.” The ’80s received a nice jolt from the genre’s most fondly remembered pioneers as Run-D.M.C. (“King of Rock”), LL Cool J (“I Can’t Live Without My Radio”), Salt-N-Papa (“My Mic Sounds Nice”) and Public Enemy’s Chuck D & Flavor Flav (“Rebel Without a Pause)” followed suit. During the flurry of quick-hitter performances, DJ Jazzy Jeff dialed in a rendition of “Rock the Bells.”

The ’90s enjoyed an equally scintillating run as a bevy of heavyweights matched the fervor and intensity of the previous performers. The crowd reveled in seeing Queen Latifah saunter onstage to rap “U.N.I.T.Y.” before trying to play catch-up with Busta Rhymes and his frenetic flow. Busta combed through his classic “Put Your Hands Where Your Eyes Can See” and his rapid-fire feature from Chris Brown’s 2011 hit “Look at Me Now” before passing the baton to Missy Elliott for a quick rendition of “Lose Control.”

Despite the time lapses, Queen Latifah guided viewers through the 2000s as Nelly and City Spud kicked things off with “Hot In Herre,” followed by Too Short’s West Coast gem “Blow the Whistle.” The East Coast also enjoyed a moment of nostalgia when The LOX partnered up with Swizz Beatz for “We Gonna Make It.”

The performance didn’t only cater to the old-school, as new generation stars GloRilla and Lil Baby dished out their hits “F.N.F. (Let’s Go)” and “Freestyle,” respectively. To close things out, Lil Uzi Vert appeared as “Just Wanna Rock” blared through the speakers, and LL Cool J rallied all the performers. “We started in the Bronx. And ever since, we’ve gone everywhere,” he declared.

See the full setlist below:

Chapter 1:

  • Black Thought narration
  • Grandmaster Flash w/ Barshon, Melle Mel, Rahiem & Scorpio – “Flash To The
  • Beat”
  • Grandmaster Flash w/ Barshon, Melle Mel, Rahiem & Scorpio – “The Message”
  • Run-D.M.C. – “King Of Rock”
  • LL Cool J – “I Can’t Live Without My Radio”
  • DJ Jazzy Jeff – “Rock The Bells”
  • Salt-N-Pepa – “My Mic Sounds Nice”
  • Rakim – “Eric B Is President”
  • Chuck D & Flavor Flav – “Rebel Without A Pause”

Chapter 2:

  • Black Thought w/ LL Cool J – “El Shabazz Skit”
  • De La Soul – “Buddy”
  • Scarface – “My Mind’s Playing Tricks On Me”
  • Ice-T – “New Jack Hustler (Nino’s Theme)”
  • Queen Latifah – “U.N.I.T.Y.”
  • Method Man – “Method Man”
  • Big Boi – “ATLiens”
  • Busta Rhymes & Spliff Star – “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See” /
  • “Look At Me Now”
  • Missy Elliott – “Lose Control”

Chapter 3:

  • Queen Latifah narration
  • Nelly & City Spud – “Hot In Herre”
  • Too $hort – “Blow The Whistle”
  • Swizz Beatz & The LOX – “We Gonna Make It”
  • Lil Baby – “Freestyle”
  • GloRilla – “F.N.F. (Let’s Go)”
  • LL Cool J – “Just Wanna Rock
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