The Grammys Salute to 50 Years Of Hip-Hop Uniting Will Smith, Queen Latifah, Public Enemy and The Recording Academy and C.B.S. recently teamed up to present “A Grammy Salute to 50 Years of Hip-Hop,” an iconic celebration of the culture that has shaped the music industry for half a century. The two-hour special, which aired on Sunday night, brought together a diverse lineup of rappers, D.J.s, dancers, and presenters to honor the pioneers and pillars of hip-hop.
Filmed at Inglewood’s YouTube Theater on November 8, the event featured an impressive roster of performers spanning different decades and regions. Icons such as Queen Latifah, Public Enemy, Rakim, MC Lyte, and Common took the stage alongside newer artists like Rick Ross, Jeezy, Jermaine Dupri, Gunna, and Chance the Rapper. Each artist delivered electrifying medley performances, showcasing the evolution of rap music in terms of style and substance.
One of the night’s standout moments was the reunion of Will Smith, also known as the Fresh Prince, and D.J. Jazzy Jeff. The duo performed a medley of their solo and collaborative hits, including their Grammy-winning track “Parents Just Don’t Understand.” Questlove, the drummer for The Roots, introduced the duo with heartfelt admiration, highlighting their groundbreaking achievements in hip-hop.
The special also paid homage to the influential women of hip-hop. Queen Latifah, a recurring presence throughout the broadcast, joined forces with Monie Love for their 1989 hit “Ladies First.” The performance then transitioned into a history lesson featuring verses from Sha-Rock, J.J. Fad, Roxanne Shante, and MC Lyte. The medley concluded with an empowering anthem called “U.N.I.T.Y.,” which addressed gender inequality and disrespect towards women.
The focus shifted to the South, with a segment curated by Jermaine Dupri, a prominent figure in Atlanta’s hip-hop scene. The performance highlighted the contributions of Southern rappers who helped bring the genre into the mainstream. Jeezy, T.I., Three 6 Mafia, U.G.K.’s Bun B, GloRilla, Boosie Badazz, and Uncle Luke of 2 Live Crew all delivered captivating verses, showcasing Southern hip-hop’s unique sound and style.
Public Enemy, a legendary group known for their politically charged lyrics, had a well-deserved moment during the special. Host LL Cool J introduced the Grammy Lifetime Achievement nominees. Questlove joined them on the turntables for powerful renditions of their biggest hits, including “Fight the Power” and “Bring the Noise.” Flavor Flav and Chuck D’s dynamic performance reminded viewers of the passion and fire that fueled their music since the 1980s.
The particular featured segments dedicated to the West Coast, the Native Tongues collective, and international hip-hop. Artists like Warren G, Luniz, Lady of Rage, YG, Tyga, DJ Quik, Yo-Yo, Cypress Hill, Big Daddy Kane, Black Thought, Rakim, Akon, and Blaqbonez delivered energetic performances, showcasing the diversity and global reach of hip-hop.
Boosie Badazz, the Baton Rouge-bred rapper, expressed his gratitude to the Grammys for allowing him to perform at a televised industry ceremony for the first time since his release from prison almost a decade ago. Boosie, who left Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola on March 5, 2014, had eagerly awaited this moment. His long-awaited return to the small screen came during the “A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop” T.V. special, where he showcased his talent and reminded the world of his undeniable presence in the hip-hop community.
Throughout the event, vignettes featuring Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jelly Roll provided personal insights into their love for hip-hop. The special also included a moving tribute to the artists who have passed away but left an indelible mark on hip-hop culture, such as D.M.X., Nipsey Hussle, Tupac Shakur, and others.
As the night came to a close, Harvey Mason Jr., Chairman and Interim President/C.E.O. of the Recording Academy, reflected on the significance of hip-hop in today’s world. He emphasized that hip-hop is not just music; it is a universal language that has the power to unite and bring about change.
“A Grammy Salute to 50 Years of Hip-Hop” was a testament to hip-hop’s cultural impact and enduring legacy. It celebrated the artists who paved the way and showcased the genre’s evolution over the past five decades. Through electrifying performances and heartfelt tributes, the special honored the pillars of hip-hop and solidified its place as a global phenomenon.