LL Cool J Leads Hip-Hop 50 Tribute At 2023 Grammy Awards

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Dr. Dre was also honored with the inaugural Dr. Dre Global Impact Award in light of his musical contributions.

BY PREEZY BROWNPlus Icon

FEBRUARY 6, 2023 12:17AM 

Celebratory vibes were in the air at the 65th Annual Grammy Awards, as LL Cool J led a festive medley in honor of the 50th anniversary of Hip-Hop.

Curated by Questlove, the lineup included a shortlist of the greatest rap artists of all time, including stars from the genre’s Golden Era, the ’90s, and a handful of today’s most promising stars. However, LL was sure to preemptively address grievances over acts that weren’t participants in the musical jubilee. “We wish we could’ve included every artist,” he noted before adding that those events will come “at a later date, at a later time.”

The proceedings commenced from there, with Philly rapper Black Thought taking the stage to spit a few bars to warm up the mic for his lyrical predecessors to get busy. First up were pioneering rap acts Grandmaster Flash and the Furious FiveRun DMC, LL, Salt-N-PepaRakimKRS-One, and Public Enemy taking attendees and viewers on a blast through the past records that helped mold the sound of the music during its formative years. LL and Black Thought carried a brief break in the action by engaging with one another as the second portion of the tribute began, which included appearances from ’90s luminaries De La SoulScarfaceIce-TQueen LatifahMethod ManBig Boi, and Busta Rhymes.

Critics skeptical of the Recording Academy botching this monumental occasion with a lack in scope were disproved, as Missy ElliottNellyThe LOX, and Too $hort’s presence was indicative of the variety of talent on display. In a culture forever young, it was appropriate that the current crop of stars also partake in the show. The decision to tap the likes of Lil BabyGloRilla, and Lil Uzi Vert to round out the medley doubled as a full-circle moment that embodies what Hip-Hop 50 is all about. “From the Bronx to TikTok, to the whole world,” LL declared at the end of the set. “For the culture! Rock the Bells!”

Prior to the Hip-Hop 50 tribute, the Recording Academy bestowed Dr. Dre with the inaugural Dr. Dre Global Impact Award in light of his contributions to music throughout his illustrious career. After being presented by LL, Dre came onstage to accept the award. He addressed the crowd with a short speech, voiced his gratitude, and expressed his love for Hip-Hop, before asking where he’d be without it.

“I’m extremely moved by this award,” the 57-year-old said. He later added that his journey in rap “started with a song called Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel” which led him to “a 40-year career of doing what I really love.” He shouted out his various collaborators who were “inspiring and crucial to his success” over the years, as well as the people who stayed by his side during his most trying moments. The notorious perfectionist concluded his acceptance speech by advising those looking to follow their own dreams to “never compromise your vision at all, pursue quality over quantity, and remember, everything is important.”

The 65th Annual Grammy Awards included a number of reminders of just how far Hip-Hop has taken things since its inception in the South Bronx back in 1973. Creating its first Hip-Hop category in 1989, the Recording Academy’s relationship with the culture has evolved over time, to where some of the biggest winners each year can be traced back to the community. This evening was no different, as names like Kendrick Lamar and Lizzo won several awards, including Best Rap Performance, Best Rap Album, Best Rap Song, and Record of the Year.

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

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