Questlove: Will Smith was supposed to perform at Grammys 2023 hip-hop tribute

One particular person was missing from the Grammys’ tribute to hip-hop’s 50th anniversary: ​​Will Smith.

According to Questlove — who produced the stunning 10-minute performance — the “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” star was originally set to make his award show return, but had to drop out at the last minute.

“I’ll give a spoiler alert. Will Smith was part of the festivities tonight, but he starts shooting ‘Bad Boys 4’ this week,” Questlove, 52, told Variety Sunday ahead of the awards show. There were early shots he had to make, so we had to lose Will.”

Quest went on to say that adding Smith was “a shot in the dark” anyway due to the fact that he “always shoots movies”.

Smith had to sit out the tribute due to his “Bad Boys 4” shooting schedule.

Vintage photo of Will Smith rapping.

Smith had to sit out the tribute due to his “Bad Boys 4” shooting schedule.


Despite Smith’s absence, the performance proved to be a highlight of the entire event – even if Quest had to cut it from 23 minutes to just 14.

Between juggling schedules and making sure all the singers are ready on time, Quest told Laverne Cox that by the end of the night she “could have Obama gray hair.”

In the end, everything went as planned and it became one of the most talked about moments of music’s biggest night.

Nelly is performing.

The tribute was 14 minutes long.

Hip-hop performance at the Grammys.

The tribute was 14 minutes long.


The show-stopping set included snippets of Nelly’s “Hot in Her,” Busta Rhymes’ hit “Look at Me Now,” and hip-hop pioneers Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five’s rendition of “The Message.”

Some other notable names include Future, Ice-T, Lil Baby, Salt-N-Pepa, LL Cool J, Queen Latifah, RUN-DMC, Too $hort, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Scarface, Swizz Beatz, Lil Uzi Vert and many more. Some are included.

Will Smith accepts a leading actor award for 'King Richard'.
The performance will mark Smith’s first awards show appearance since the 2022 Oscars.
Getty Images

Quist’s decision to add Smith to the production may come as a surprise to many fans given her history at the 2022 Oscars.

Shortly after Smith infamously slapped Chris Rock, the producer won an Academy Award for best documentary for “Summer of Soul” — but his big moment was clearly overshadowed.

Although sources told Page Six that Quest and her co-stars felt “awkward” accepting the award on stage after the incident, they seem to have since cleared the air.

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