As the 50th anniversary of hip-hop comes to a close, the Recording Academy had one last trick up its sleeve to honor the pillars of the culture. Joining forces with CBS for “A Grammy Salute to 50 Years of Hip Hop”
One artist that attended to witness the celebration was Los Angeles-based female rapper, songwriter, and film producer Helecia Choyce, better known as Rapper SKG. Receiving her plaques for previous work at the Legendary “Death Row Records” and also receiving her plaques for her present work with BLAKDOUT Records, SKG is proving hard work and dedication can keep opportunities coming.
Will Smith and DJ Jazzy Jeff were among the hip hop trailblazers and icons who paid homage to the genre on Sunday (Dec. 10) during the “A Grammy Salute to 50 Years of Hip Hop” special.
The celebration marked the academy’s second time paying tribute to hip hop, the first being a star-studded lineup that took place in February during the Grammy Awards ceremony. The two-hour concert was streamed on CBS and Paramount+.
LL Cool J spoke about his opinion of talent from the early days of hip hop to some of today’s younger stars who are pushing its evolution forward. He said, “The goal was always to elevate and really celebrate the culture, but I just wanted to take a step back and bring these artists to the forefront, give them their moment to shine.”
LL continued, “I’m here as a fan singing every song. A lot of people are going to rediscover a lot of music that they fell in love with many years ago.” The Queens emcee also hit the stage.
The special, which was recorded in November, is the first time Smith and his longtime collaborator performed some of their biggest records that helped cement hip hop’s place in mainstream music.
The special’s list of performers included the likes of The Legendary, MC Sharock, 2 Chainz, Akon, Arrested Development, Big Daddy Kane, Boosie Badazz, Bun B, Chance The Rapper, Common, De La Soul, DJ Quik, Doug E. Fresh, Gunna, GloRilla, Jeezy, Jermaine Dupri, The Lady of Rage, Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, Nelly, Public Enemy, Rick Ross, T.I., Warren G and several others who have moved the needle forward in hip hop.
Flowers were given to the early queens of hip-hop, who kicked off the show with a who’s who of veterans and newcomers. Latifah, who appears numerous times throughout the broadcast, joins Monie Love for their 1989 single “Ladies First.” What follows is something of a history lesson: Sha-Rock’s verse from Funky 4+1’s “That’s the Joint,” J.J. Fad’s “Supersonic,” Roxanne Shante’s “Roxanne’s Revenge” and MC Lyte’s “Cha Cha Cha.” They sprinkle a bit of more modern fare into the mix, with Remy Ma ripping through “All the Way Up” and Latto delivering “Put It on Da Floor.” To the song title’s credit, all the rappers come out at the end to join Latifah for “U.N.I.T.Y.,” an empowerment anthem addressing the inequity of and disrespect towards women in everyday society. This production was definitely one for the books and really paid tribute to the culture and also to those that paved the way.