D.J. Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince are set to reunite at A Grammy Salute to 50 Years of Hip-Hop, which will tape on Nov. 8 at YouTube Theater in Inglewood, Calif. It will mark one of Will Smith’s first major public events since his infamous slap of Chris Rock at the 94th annual Academy Awards in March 2022.
D.J. Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince made Grammy hip-hop history twice. The awards show didn’t have a dedicated category for rap or hip-hop until the 1988 awards, which were presented Feb. 22, 1989. The duo’s genial pop hit “Parents Just Don’t Understand” was the first hip-hop recording to win a Grammy (best rap performance). But they weren’t invited to perform on the show that year.
A year later, on Feb. 21, 1990, the duo became the first hip-hop act to perform on the Grammys. “We’d like to dedicate this performance to all the rappers last year that stood with us and helped us to earn the right to be on this stage tonight,” Smith said at the time before he and D.J. Jazzy Jeff launched into “I Think I Can Beat Mike Tyson.”
The tribute special will air Dec. 10 from 8:30 – 10:30 p.m. ET/PT, on CBS and will be available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+.
A Grammy Salute to 50 Years of Hip-Hop is produced by Jesse Collins Entertainment. Collins, Shawn Gee, Dionne Harmon, Claudine Joseph, LL COOL J, Fatima Robinson, Jeannae Rouzan-Clay, and Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson for Two One Five Entertainment will serve as executive producers and Marcelo Gama as director of the special.
An extended “50 Years of 50-Hop” segment was one of the highlights of the 65th annual Grammy Awards on Feb. 5. That kicked off a year of hip-hop celebrations that has underscored the importance and dominance of the genre.
The segment drew universal praise. Billboard’s Joe Lynch pegged it as the best performance on the 2023 Grammys telecast. “While it’s an impossible task to sum up 50 years of any genre (much less one that fought for decades to get a modicum of mainstream respect and eventually became the dominant genre in American music), this electrifying medley brought to vivid life the charged personalities, thumping grooves, deft deliveries and unpredictable flourishes that make hip-hop a global force.”
Questlove curated the 15-minute spot on the Grammy telecast, which featured three dozen rap acts. Collins, Robinson and Gee (Questlove’s manager and president of LNU) were also among the producers of that segment.
While many will assume that the success of the spot on the Grammy telecast led CBS to hurry a special into production, the special was in the works before anyone knew there would be a segment on the telecast, according to a source.
Harvey Mason jr., CEO of the Recording Academy, hinted at the upcoming special in a statement announcing the telecast segment. “For five decades, Hip Hop has not only been a defining force in music, but a major influence on our culture,” he said. “Its contributions to art, fashion, sport, politics, and society cannot be overstated. I’m so proud that we are honoring it in such a spectacular way on the Grammy stage. It is just the beginning of our year-long celebration of this essential genre of music.”
The show was originally set to tape on Aug. 11, which was the 50th anniversary (to the day!) of a back-to-school party in The Bronx that many point to as the beginning of hip-hop culture. CBS, which has broadcast the Grammy telecast since 1973, aired another Grammy-branded special – A Grammy Salute to The Beach Boys – on April 9. That special was taped on Feb. 8 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.
Doors open for the Nov. 8 taping at 6 p.m. PT. The concert is set to begin at 7 p.m. Tickets are available to the public now at Ticketmaster.com. The YouTube Theater is located at 1011 Stadium Dr., Inglewood, CA 90305.