La Jolla’s Swizz Beatz will be featured in Grammy Awards all-star 50th anniversary of hip-hop tribute Sunday
The Grammy-winner, who is married to Alicia Keys, is the co-creator of the popular ‘Verzuz’ rap-battle webcast series. He and Jay-Z shared a Grammy win in 2011 for ‘On to the Next One.’
The Grammy Awards on Thursday announced an all-star tribute to the 50th anniversary of hip-hop segment as part of Sunday’s 65th annual Grammy Awards telecast and the lineup includes La Jolla resident and 2011 Grammy-winner Swizz Beatz. He is married to singer-songwriter and 15-time Grammy Award-winner Alicia Keys, who hosted the Grammys in 2019 and 2020.
It was a night of major intrigue and drama, as host Alicia Keys expertly walked a tightrope
Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, the drummer and band leader of The Roots, will serve as musical director for the hip-hop tribute segment, which will air live from Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles. It which will be introduced by LL Cool J and narrated by rapper Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter, who co-founded The Roots with Thompson in 1987.
The other performers will include Big Boi, Busta Rhymes with Spliff Star, De La Soul, DJ Drama, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Missy Elliott, Future, GloRilla, Grandmaster Flash, Grandmaster Melle Mel & Scorpio/Ethiopian King, Ice-T, Lil Baby, Lil Wayne, The Lox, Method Man, Nelly, Public Enemy, Queen Latifah, Rahiem, Rakim, RUN-DMC, Salt-N-Pepa and Spinderella, Scarface, Too $hort and LL Cool J, who will introduce the segment.
“For five decades, hip-hop has not only been a defining force in music, but a major influence on our culture,” said Harvey Mason Jr., CEO of the Recording Academy, in a statement released by the academy, under whose auspices the Grammys are held.
“Its contributions to art, fashion, sport, politics, and society cannot be overstated,” Mason continued. “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 yearlong celebration of this essential genre of music.”
Swizz Beatz, who was born Kasseem Dean, is a nine-time Grammy-nominee who has been acclaimed for his work as a producer, songwriter, DJ, instrumentalist and rapper. His star-studded resume includes collaborations with Whitney Houston, Gwen Stefani, Mary J. Blige, Drake, Kanye West, Nicki Minaj, Pop Smoke, Common, Romeo Santos, Nas, Mariah Carey and Beyoncé, who is this year’s most nominated Grammy artist.
What would the perfect Grammy Awards be like? “Everyone wins every award they were nominated for!” says Grammy honcho Harvey Mason Jr.
Shortly after the pandemic shutdown began in 2020, Swizz Beatz and fellow hip-hop star Timbaland created “Verzuz.” An internet sensation, “Verzuz” pitted rappers, R&B singers, producers and sometimes bands — including The Isley Brothers and Earth, Wind & Fire — against each other in musical playoffs, or “battles.” Viewers weighed in with online comments, as did fellow artists.
At least three of the scheduled performers for Sunday’s Grammy hip-hop tribute — Nelly, Method Man and Too $hort — perfomed on episodes of “Verzuz.”
Los Angeles native Too $hort (born Todd Shaw) has the distinction of being one of the few West Coast rappers performing in Sunday’s Grammy hip-hop tribute.
The lineup, which skews heavily to East Coast artists, conspicuously does not include such Los Angeles-area bred stars as Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, The Game, YG or Kendrick Lamar, who has eight Grammy nominations going into Sunday’s awards fete.
Also missing is rapper-turned-Oscar-winning actor Will Smith, who rose to fame alongside DJ Jazzy Jeff, rapping under the name The Fresh Prince. Jeff will perform, sans Smith, at Sunday’s Grammys. In 1989, the duo won the inaugural Best Rap Performance Grammy, but boycotted the show to protest that category not being included in the telecast.
The 65th annual Grammy Awards
Hosted by: Trevor Noah
With performances by: Bad Bunny, Bonnie Raitt, Lizzo, Brandi Carlile, Harry Styles, Mary J. Blige, Kim Petras, Sam Smith, Luke Combs, Mick Fleetwood, Swizz Beats, Public Enemy, Kacey Musgraves, Quavo and more
When: 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on KFMB Channel 8 and on the Paramount+ subscription streaming service
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