Grammy Awards Pay Tribute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop

The 65th Annual Grammy Awards went a long way towards recognising the contribution of hip-hop legends with a 12-minute medley celebrating 50 years of hip-hop music.

With a history of boycotts by hip-hop royalty and the perception that rap artists have been shown a lack of respect, the Grammys have had a tense relationship with the music genre since it exploded onto the music scene in 1973.

GRAMMYs: LL Cool J, Salt-N-Pepa and Queen Latifah's Hip Hop 50 Tribute

A matter of persuasion

Roots drummer Questlove was presented with the tricky task of encapsulating the long history of hip-hop in a 12-minute section and the job of persuading rap legends of the 70s, 80s, and 90s to appear was just as difficult: “It took a lot of cajoling for this particular generation to come to a function that has systematically treated them as stepchildren.” For Questlove, his greatest coup was securing the appearance of rapper Missy Elliott, which he said involved persuasive skills worthy of Jerry Maguire. 

Hip-hop entrepreneurs

With hip-hop now established in the mainstream, rap artists such as Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Dr. Dre are now considered entrepreneurs in their own right thanks to their involvement in fashion, video games, TV documentaries, and films. Netflix features a wide range of rap and hip-hop documentaries such as Hip-Hop Evolution and Travis Scott: Look Mom I Can Fly, while Dr. Dre has been immortalised in GTA Online.

So, it is a surprise to see very few rap-themed slots in the iGaming industry. Online casinos such as this provide a variety of musical themes and genres such as Vinyl Countdown, Boogie Monsters, and Village People Macho Moves. There certainly seems to be an opportunity for operators to capitalise on the popularity of the rap genre in its choice of slot games. Officially branded rap titles surely cannot be far away.

While many prominent rappers, including MC Hammer, Puff Daddy, Eminem, and Kanye West, did not perform, the setlist was a who’s who of rap and hip-hop artists from 50 years of music history. The 12-minute set included artists such as Salt-N-Pepa performing “My Mic Sounds Nice,” Chuck D and Flavor Flav of Public Enemy rapping “Rebel Without a Pause” and hip-hop was brought straight back to the present with Lil Uzi Vert’s performance of “Just Wanna Rock.”

A lack of respect

Even though the Grammys finally recognised rap by introducing an award for the genre in 1989, the decision not to televise the presentation of the award led to a boycott by artists such as LL Cool J, Salt-N-Pepa and DJ Jazzy Jeff. But the tribute, which also honoured Grandmaster Flash, Missy Elliott, and Ice-T, will go some way to rectifying the wrongs of the past. In an interview with Yahoo Finance, Harvey Mason Jr., CEO of The Recording Academy, accepted that the hip-hop genre has not always been properly honoured by the Grammys, but he stressed that the academy has changed for the better and is looking towards a more diverse and inclusive Grammy Awards ceremony.

With so many hip-hop artists inevitably excluded or unavailable for the 12-minute tribute, the Grammy performance was not a one-off, with the academy set to dedicate a two-hour celebration to the game-changing genre this summer.

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