The celebration marks the academy’s second time paying tribute to hip hop, the first being a star-studded lineup that took place in February during the Grammy Awards ceremony. The two-hour concert will stream at 8:30 p.m. ET/ 8 p.m. PT on CBS and Paramount+.
Ahead of its airdate, LL Cool J spoke with Entertainment Tonight about the medley of talent from the early days of hip hop to some of today’s younger stars who are pushing its evolution forward. He said, “The goal was always to elevate and really celebrate the culture, but I just wanted to take a step back and bring these artists to the forefront, give them their moment to shine.”
LL continued, “I’m here as a fan singing every song. A lot of people are going to rediscover a lot of music that they fell in love with many years ago.” The Queens emcee is also slated to hit the stage. The special, which was recorded in November, is the first time Smith and his longtime collaborator will perform some of their biggest records that helped cement hip hop’s place in mainstream music.
The box office juggernaut was among the artists asked to participate in the Grammys tribute in February, but, at the time, Smith was shooting the fourth installment of Bad Boys. The entertainer shouted out Jeff, LL and Questlove in an Instagram post. “Y’all were RIGHT. This was the most fun I’ve had in a long time!” he captioned the carousel of photos.
The special’s list of performers includes the likes of 2 Chainz, Akon, Arrested Development, Big Daddy Kane, Boosie Badazz, Bun B, Chance The Rapper, Common, De La Soul, DJ Quik, Doug E. Fresh, Gunna, GloRilla, Jeezy, Jermaine Dupri, The Lady of Rage, Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, Nelly, Public Enemy, Rick Ross, T.I., Warren G and several others who have moved the needle forward in hip hop.