Will Smith was meant to be perform at Grammys 2023 Hip-Hop tribute

The Grammy’s tribute to the 50th anniversary of hip-hop was missing one special person: Will Smith.

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

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

Quest went on to say getting Smith involved was “a shot in the dark” anyways due to the fact he is “always shooting movies.” 

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

Older photo of Will Smith rapping.
Smith had to drop out of the tribute due to his “Bad Boys 4” shooting schedule.


Despite Smith’s absence, the performance proved to be one of the highlights of the entire ceremony — even if Quest had to cut it down from 23 minutes to just 14.

Between juggling schedules and making sure all the singers were ready on time, Quest told Laverne Cox he “might have Obama-gray hair” by the end of the night.

In the end, everything went according to plan and it became one of the most talked about moments from music’s biggest night.

Nelly 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 “Hot in Here” by Nelly, Busta Rhymes’ famous verse from “Look At Me Now,” and hip-hop pioneers Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five’s rendition of “The Message.”

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

Will Smith accepts the Actor in a Leading Role award for ‘King Richard’
The performance would’ve marked Smith’s first award show appearance since the 2022 Oscars.
Getty Images

Quest’s decision to include Smith in the production might come as a surprise to many fans given his history at the 2022 Oscars.

Right 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 at the time Quest and his collaborators felt “odd” accepting the award on-stage following the incident, it appears they’ve since cleared the air.

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