The Grammys hosted a star-studded medley by which all future award show extravaganzas will be measured, featuring literally dozens of music legends during an epic celebration of the 50th anniversary of hip-hop.
The bonkers performance has been decades in the making, dating back to the genre’s beginnings at DJ Kool Herc’s “Back to School Jam” in 1973. Questlove of The Roots served as the set’s music director and producer, while LL Cool J stepped in as host, as icon after icon took the stage.
The medley boasted some of the first blockbuster rap greats like Rakim, Grandmaster Flash, Melle Mel, Run DMC, Salt-N-Pepa, Public Enemy, Scarface, and De La Soul. Queen Latifah showed she never gave up the crown, Busta Rhymes ripped through “Look at Me Now” with such speed and force that he seemingly broke the faces of everyone in the crowd, judging by all the jaws on the floor, and Missy Elliot made the whole building “Lose Control.”
Method Man represented Wu-Tang Clan, Big Boi held it down for Outkast and all the other “ATLiens,” and Nelly hinted at the fireball exploding on stage with his hit, “Hot in Herre.” Throughout, the camera kept returning to JAY-Z in the audience, losing his mind alongside everyone at home. The medley concluded with rising superstars Lil Baby and Glorilla as the latest links in an unbroken chain stretching back five decades.
“Multigenerational. Fifty years. From the Bronx to the whole world,” LL Cool J said by way of conclusion. The Grammys always call themselves Music’s Biggest Night. Tonight, it felt true.
Check out the full setlist (via the LA Times), and watch clips from the 50th anniversary performance below. Also check out the full list of winners and our live blog.
Grammys Hip-Hop 50th Anniversary Tribute Setlist:
Black Thought (narration)
Grandmaster Flash with Barshon, Melle Mel, Rahiem & Scorpio – “Flash to the Beat”
Grandmaster Flash with Barshon, Melle Mel, Rahiem & Scorpio – “The Message”
Run-DMC – “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”
Black Thought with 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”
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)”
Lil Uzi Vert – “Just Wanna Rock”
50-year anniversary of hip-hop performance at the #GRAMMYs by some of the greats including RunDMC, LL Cool J, Salt N Peppa, Ice T, Queen Latifah, Wu-Tang, Big Boi, Busta Rhymes, Missy Elliott, Nelly, Too Short, GloRilla, The Roots, and more… pic.twitter.com/HmGB0bvGZX
— Leon Carrington (@LeonCarrington) February 6, 2023