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Here’s Why Will Smith Was Not In The Grammy Awards Hip-Hop Tribute

Vibe 2/6/2023 DeMicia Inman
© Provided by Vibe

Will Smith was noticeably absent from the 2023 Grammy Award’s Hip-Hop 50 tribute on Sunday (Feb. 5) but there’s a reason why. Despite his decade-long ban from the Academy Awards, the acclaimed actor was invited to perform in the cultural showcase but could not make it due to schedule constraints for an upcoming film project.

Questlove, who curated the segment, revealed a few other artists were sought out for the performance medley, which was initially planned to be 23 minutes long.

“I’ll give the spoiler alert away. Will Smith was a part of the festivities tonight, but they started shooting Bad Boys 4 already this week,” Questlove revealed to Variety ahead of the award show. “There’s a lot of preliminary shots that he had to do, so we had to lose Will. That was gonna be a surprise moment.”

Questlove attends the 65th GRAMMY Awards on February 05, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.

Will Smith and DJ Jazzy Jeff (who did perform during the Grammy’s Hip-Hop 50 tribute) notably won the first Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance in 1989 for “Parents Just Don’t Understand.” The two notably boycotted the ceremony for not televising the category.

J.J. Fad, who was included in the inaugural class of rap performance nominees, broke their silence on Twitter with claims of not being invited to the 2023 Grammy events despite their place in history. Other nominees in the 1989 category—Salt-n-Pepa and LL Cool J—were included in the tribute. Kool Moe Dee, the remaining nominee was not.

“So when the @recording academy /Grammy’s first introduced the rap category in 1988 we were amongst the first group of rappers to be nominated,” they tweeted from the group’s official account. “Now there’s a celebration of the 50th anniversary of hip hop at the Grammy’s and we aren’t invited?? Make that make sense!!”

On the other hand, announced performers Future and Lil Wayne did not take the stage, resulting in less Southern Hip-Hop representation. Still, acts ranging from Black Thought, Missy Elliott, Queen Latifah, Ice T, Lil Baby, GloRilla, Public Enemy, Salt N Pepa, Lil Uzi Vert, DJ Jazzy Jef, Big Boi, Too $hort, and more took the stage in a generational tribute to Hip-Hop music and culture.

“We wish we could’ve included every artist,” expressed LL Cool J who emceed the performance, before adding others will be included “at a later date, at a later time.”

“From the Bronx to TikTok, to the whole world,” LL exclaimed at the end of the set. “For the culture! Rock the Bells!”

Watch a snippet of the Hip-Hop 50 Grammy Awards Tribute below.

Flavor Flav and Chuck D of Public Enemy perform onstage during the 65th GRAMMY Awards at Arena on February 05, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.

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