Questlove Reveals Why Will Smith Couldn't Join GRAMMYs Hip Hop Tribute (Exclusive)

GRAMMYs: Questlove Says Will Smith Dropped Out of Hip Hop 50 Tribute Last Minute (Exclusive)

The producer shared his excitement for Sunday night's special showcase with ET.

Questlove is ready for fans to celebrate the 50th anniversary of hop hop at the 65th Annual GRAMMY Awards! ET spoke with the Academy Award-winning musician and filmmaker on the red carpet of Sunday night's annual awards show, where he shared his excitement for the upcoming showcase celebrating the genre's rich history and continued global influence.

"For me, it's a night of magic, a night of celebration but what tonight is really about is the celebration of hip hop," Questlove tells ET. The musician had a large part in the showcase as producer and musical director, working with his band, The Roots, to provide music, and Black Thought who will narrate.

He adds, "I'm just honored to be in the eye of the storm from fruition to completion. What I'm really grateful for is [that] I was of age when hip hop came to us -- it was like seeing a spaceship from the sky. And now to still be here... You could never tell 8-year-old me that I would be part of curating something so magical."

The musical segment will feature electrifying performances by Big Boi, Busta Rhymes with Spliff Star, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Missy Elliott, Future, GloRilla, Queen Latifah, Ice-T, Lil Baby, Lil Wayne, Method Man, Nelly,  RUN-DMC, Salt-N-Pepa and Spinderella and more. LL Cool J will introduce the showcase, perform and give a dedication to a beloved hip hop icon.

"It's like a family reunion just to watch these acts hug each other and build each other up, because oftentimes hip hop is such a sport, a competition. And for people to just drop their guard and be vulnerable, it was so beautiful to see," Questlove shares.

Although the list of featured artists is already incredible, Questlove admits that there's one act that had to back out. The musician reveals that Will Smith "was 99.4 percent" committed to making an appearance, presumably along with his former musical partner, DJ Jazzy Jeff, with whom he won the first rap GRAMMY in 1989.

"But they started shooting Bad Boys 4 this week, so he couldn't make rehearsals," Questlove explains. "But he wanted to do it."

The musician also reveals that when planning the production for the showcase, he made a playlist as a "first draft" that featured over a hundred artists and was almost 30 minutes long. Despite how amazing that would be to watch live, Questlove notes that he's cut that runtime down considerably for the awards show. 

"Tonight is gonna be a 14-minute retrospective of some of the most beautiful music ever created by the most beautiful people ever," he promises. "Tonight is the day we've been waiting for. We remember when hip hop first got nominated and there was a protest in the building, and now we get a seat at the table."

Sunday night's showcase is just the beginning when it comes to celebrations for the genre's big anniversary.

"For five decades, hip hop has not only been a defining force in music, but a major influence on our culture," Harvey Mason Jr., CEO of the Recording Academy, previously said in a statement. "Its contributions to art, fashion, sport, politics, and society cannot be overstated. I'm so proud that we are honoring it in such a spectacular way on the GRAMMY stage. It is just the beginning of our year-long celebration of this essential genre of music."

The 65th Annual GRAMMY Awards are taking place at Arena and are being broadcast and streamed live on CBS and Paramount+. Follow along at for full coverage from music's biggest night, including performancesGRAMMY winners and more.