The Grammys celebrated the 50th anniversary of hip-hop with a star-studded performance that nearly included Will Smith.
Once known as the Fresh Prince before cementing his status as one of the biggest mainstream rappers in the 1990s, Smith had to drop out of the performance at the last minute over a scheduling conflict.
“I’ll give the spoiler alert away. Will Smith was apart of the festivities tonight, but they started shooting Bad Boys 4 this week,” Questlove, who organized the 14-minute-long hip-hop tribute that took place Sunday night, told Variety on the red carpet. “There were a lot of preliminary shots that he had to do, so we had to lose Will.”
Questlove admitted that trying to secure Will for the performance was “a shot in the dark,” as the Hollywood star is “always shooting movies.” The 54-year-old and his co-star Martin Lawrence announced the sequel last week.
Smith wasn’t the only hip-hop icon who had to pull out of the festivities. In an interview with the New York Times, Questlove revealed Lil Wayne and Future were also supposed to appear in the Grammys performance, but both dropped out at the last minute.
Quest was still able to curate a star-studded collection of A-listers, which included pioneers such as LL Cool J, Queen Latifah, Big Boi, De La Soul, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Grandmaster Flash, Grandmaster Melle Mel, Ice-T, Method Man, Public Enemy, Rakim, Run-DMC, Salt-N-Pepa, Scarface, Busta Rhymes, and Too Short.
“I explained to them all that I understand the historical significance of it,” Questlove told the NYT. “But you’ve got to understand that there is a new generation that has a seat at the table. Our job is to make it right.”
He added, “I know this reeks of a lot of overcompensatory acts, but just trust me, the old guard is gone and the new guard is the establishing guard. What should’ve been due to you 35 or 40 years ago is coming to light now.”