The Grammy Awards took a moment to celebrate the 50th anniversary of hip-hop on Sunday with an extended, centerpiece performance that featured a variety of songs from across the decades. Curated by Questlove of the Roots, the medley was narrated by Black Thought, LL Cool J, and Queen Latifah, and featured a range of deep cuts, smash hits, and fan favorites.
The performance opened with Grandmaster Flash demonstrating his traditional record-scratching and drum-machine techniques. It then moved through the late 1970s and 1980s with appearances by Run-DMC, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Salt-N-Pepa, Rakim and Public Enemy’s Chuck D and Flava Flav. This was followed by Queen Latifah, Big Boi of Outkast and Missy Elliott, who performed her 2005 hit “Lose Control.” Busta Rhymes then put on a showstopping display of vocal speed, verbal dexterity, and breath control.
The third act moved into the present day with Nelly, Too Short and the Lox, followed by current rap stars like Lil Baby and GloRilla. The set list concluded with Lil Uzi Vert, hitting viral dance moves alongside LL Cool J, to his Jersey club-influenced TikTok hit “Just Wanna Rock.”
The performance was a fitting tribute to half a century of hip-hop, demonstrating its evolution from Grandmaster Flash to Lil Uzi Vert. It was a celebration of the genre’s enduring influence, with a medley of songs that showcased its range from deep cuts to smash hits. It was a powerful reminder of the genre’s impact and relevance, and a fitting tribute to its 50th anniversary.