Questlove was tasked with curating the Hip-Hop tribute that took place during the 65th Annual Grammy Awards on February 5. Ice-T, Busta Rhymes, Grandmaster Flash, Scorpio, Melle Mel, Rakim and Queen Latifah were among the 27 artists who took the stage. With such a short amount of time, The Roots drummer had to be selective.
But, nonetheless, he was met with a healthy amount of backlash for who he didn’t include. On Monday (February 6), Questlove addressed the chatter in a detailed Twitter thread and explained why certain artists were missing.
“General ?s answered about last night: (some are asking if we are playing erasure games so uh…yeah I don’t that so—in answering the questions of ‘why wasn’t dada there?). 1. Already booked 2. declined our offer straight up. 3. Or a third option I’m not gonna get into.”
He continued: “Pr we made a decision to wait for the 2 hour August taping. wWe decided to eschew those who passed away & give flowers to the living. For starters, I learned with VH1 Honors not all rappers are good MCs and bad karaoke is a danger slope. And WAY too many legends passed so someone’s estate was gonna be heated.
“This went through a crazy evolution. All my suggestions were 20 min presentations with Breakbeats/Graf Legends/Dancers/DJ/Beatboxers. You’ll be shocked how fast 25-40 secs goes by and you don’t even get the halfway mark of 1995. l remember 1973 to 2023 was the goal.”
Naturally, there were a litany of complaints about the segment from people on Twitter. From those wondering why André 3000 didn’t join Big Boi for a proper Outkast reunion to others pointing out many of the performers once snubbed the Grammys, the social media platform lit up with negative reactions. But, as Questlove explained, there was a certain criteria he wanted to follow.
“This is NOT leading to a tired narrative that women don’t get along because there MORE concerns on the men side of things too (happiest moment seeing LL & Ice T just chillin—),” he continued. “But yeah the most asked question was ‘who all gone be there?’ which is understandable.
“We had a criteria we wanted to follow: alive? harmonizing? turntablism? fighting shape? NYC? LA? BAY? ATL? NAWLINS? HOUSTON? MIDWEST born before 1960? born after 1995? Super lyrical? Stylistic? Original? generally known by at least 2 generations?
Questlove concluded: “Now granted they might not be your favorite (and there were 2 crucial 11th hour—more like 10 mins before taping—cancellations that mighta made it look like we were biased in our choices. but just understand we literally tried to SQUEEEEEEEZE everyone in.”
It’s clear Questlove tried his best to acknowledge as many groundbreaking Hip-Hop artists as possible by including a myriad of names on a screen behind the stage. Many of them, including Egyptian Lover, J.J. Fad, MURS, Evidence and Sage Francis, celebrated the mention on social media. Check out the reactions below.