‘Hip-Hop Was Not There’: Rap Legend KRS-One Says Grammy’s Hip-Hop 50 Show Fell Short

"Birthplace Of Hip Hop" Celebrates 50 Years In The Bronx

KRS-One interacts with people at the 50th anniversary of hip-hop block party near 1520 Sedgwick Ave on August 12, 2023, in the Bronx borough of New York City. | Source: Alexi Rosenfeld / Getty

The T’Cha has spoken.

KRS-One, the multihyphenate legendary rapper and global ambassador for all things hip-hop, recently had some choice words to say about CBS televising what was billed as a “GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop.”

In a brief video clip shared Wednesday on social media by fellow rapper Daddy-O of the pioneering rap group Stetsasonic, KRS-One calmly explained why he was among those hip-hop legends who refused an invitation to attend and perform at the event that featured dozens of other rap icons.

A recap of the show on the Grammy website described the show as “A multi-generational collective of artists [who] commemorated the culture, sound and influence of hip-hop during a two-hour televised special.”

But KRS-One, ever the hip-hop historian, not only took umbrage at that description but also at the entire Grammy Awards operation, which he called out as having had a selective interest in celebrating the music.

“You ignored hip-hop for 49 years. At the 50th year, you wanna call us?” KRS-One, 58, asked rhetorically.

Referring to himself in the third person and by one of his oldest nicknames, KRS-One asked again: “You wait till the 50th year to wanna call hip-hop’s authentic teacher? Nah. You don’t get that privilege. I refuse to show up.”

KRS-One – who famously once rapped “I never won a Grammy” – didn’t go into detail there, but he was likely referring to how the Grammy Awards doesn’t even have a “hip-hop” category and just lumps so-called urban music into the “rap” category.

Beyond that, the Grammy Awards didn’t even officially recognize rap as being award-worthy until its 1989 ceremony.

But KRS-One wasn’t hardly finished with his critique of the show on CBS.

Admitting he didn’t see the entire show, KRS-One suggested there was a glaring error on the part of the event’s organizers – it only celebrated one of the four consensus foundational elements of hip-hop.

“If we know for a fact that hip-hop is breaking, emceeing, graffiti art and DJing …  what is all this other stuff?” he asked? “What is this other stuff that you’re calling hip-hop? That’s not hip-hop.”

KRS-One continued: “If you’re gonna do a hip-hop 50th anniversary, and you’re gonna call hip-hop to it, you have to have hip-hop there. Hip-hop was not there.”

TMZ reported that KRS-One was invited by LL Cool J.

Chances are that KRS-One wasn’t talking about the rapper born James Todd Smith or any of the dozens of other legendary rappers who did attend the event, including icons like Rakim, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, Queen Latifah, Cypress Hill, Public Enemy and plenty of others who paved the way for hip-hop’s current status as one of music’s most popular genres.

He seemed to be implying that without any homage paid to DJs, graffiti artists and breakdancing, suggesting the show was produced in the name of hip-hop is a severe misnomer. ,

KRS-One was far from the only hip-hop legend who didn’t attend the show for somewhat similar reasons.

Questlove, the drummer for the Roots and celebrated hip-hop curator who served as the show’s executive producer, lamented on social media that he was personally “hurt the most” that Bay Area legendary rapper MC Hammer also declined an invitation.

“We really wanted him to have his flowers,” Questlove said.

But a viral clip reportedly recorded just last month and held in honor of 2Pac shows MC Hammer claiming he “got invited to every” hip-hop 50th-anniversary celebration this year but turned them all down because “I really don’t have the patience for the fakeness.”


While MC Hammer was referring to one unfortunate aspect of hip-hop culture, he wasn’t talking about staying true to the aforementioned four elements. Instead, he suggested the “fakeness” he mentioned was directed at rappers who exaggerate (i.e. lie) in their rhymes, especially those who boast of violent and deadly exploits.

“I can’t go around old cats and still be pretending,” he said.

That’s definitely not hip-hop, either.


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