Record producer Questlove explains why Will Smith dropped out of Grammys 50th anniversary hip-hop tribute

The last time Questlove and Will Smith were on the same stage it was controversial, but anyone looking for Smith in the hip-hop tribute produced by Questlove at the 2023 Grammy Awards would have been disappointed.

The record producer explained to Variety that Smith had planned to participate in the 50th-anniversary celebration of the genre, which included some of the biggest legends in hip-hop, but he had a scheduling conflict.

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“I’ll give the spoiler alert away. Will Smith was a part of the festivities tonight, but they started shooting Bad Boys 4 this week,” said Questlove, who produced the musical tribute. “There were a lot of preliminary shots that he had to do, so we had to lose Will.”

Before he became an actor, Smith was a rapper whose iconic 1991 hit Summertime has become an anthem of the season.

He and co-star Martin Lawrence announced last week that they were beginning work on the Bad Boys sequel.

In a video shared on Instagram, Smith amps his followers up as he climbs into the car and drives.

“Yo, I’ve got an announcement,” he began. “Y’all better stop scrolling. Seriously.”

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He then heads to Lawrence’s house, where Lawrence opens the door and asks, “It’s about that time?”

The duo then say in unison “Bad boys 4 life” before riffing on the fact that the third film, released in 2020, was titled Bad Boys For Life. The first two films were Bad Boys released in 1995 and Bad Boys II in 2003.

Smith famously stormed the stage during last year’s Oscars telecast and slapped Chris Rock after the comedian made a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. After the slap Rock presented Questlove with the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature for the film Summer of Soul.

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In an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon weeks after the infamous slap, Questlove – real name Ahmir Thompson – admitted the incident didn’t even register in his head as he accepted his Oscar onstage.

“When I opened my eyes, I didn’t realise like, ‘Why is everyone so quiet?’ Like, I literally was not present for that whole entire moment, and as I’m walking to the stage, I’m putting two and two together and I realise that that was a real moment like maybe three seconds before I spoke words,” he said.

“In my mind, they’re just doing a sketch and I’m just like, ‘OK, Ahmir, remember to thank your mum, your dad …’ so I was not present at all. I was just in a blank state.”

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