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Apple Music: Watch Classic GRAMMY Rap Performances
From an underground movement founded on the streets of New York City and the urban sprawl of South Central Los Angeles, to taking the reins in 2017 as the most popular music genre in the U.S., the storied histories of rap and hip-hop have grown to become an indelible part of the cultural zeitgeist over the past four decades.
Paying heed to the unstoppable power and passion of the growing scene that had built its foundation throughout the 1980s, Music's Biggest Night first began to formally recognize excellence in hip-hop and rap performance at the 31st GRAMMY Awards. Presenter Kool Moe Dee aptly heralded the dawning of a new era in his "GRAMMY Rap", proudly declaring, "We personify power and a drug-free mind, and we express ourselves through rhythm and rhyme. So I think it’s time that the whole world knows rap is here to stay."
In the years since, the GRAMMY stage has seen many, many unforgettable performances by the world's hottest rappers. Now, thanks to the Recording Academy and Apple Music's exclusive commemorative video collection in celebration of the 60th GRAMMY Awards, you can revisit all the memorable moments.
A full year before the institution of the Best Rap Performance category, at the 30th GRAMMY Awards rap pioneers Run-D.M.C. made their case for the scene when they took over the GRAMMY stage for a rabble-rousing performance of "Tougher Than Leather." With eccentric excesses of '90s streetwear fashion on full display, the inimitable MC Hammer broke out his flashiest pants for the 33rd GRAMMY Awards, where he performed his immortal "U Can't Touch This."
Alternative hip-hop collective Arrested Development made a splash at the 35th GRAMMY Awards, with the unique combination of street realness and forceful optimism encompassed by the performance of their hit "People Everyday." New York-based neo-beatnik rap trio Digable Planets' unique re-envisioning of jazz fundamentals as the building blocks of their hyper-cool rap ethos brought the house down at the 36th GRAMMYs with their performance of "Rebirth Of Slick (Cool Like Dat)."
Female hip-hop trio Salt-N-Pepa brought the R&B vibes in full force at the 37th telecast with their sensual performance of "Whatta Man." Returning to the GRAMMY stage 10 years after taking home the first-ever GRAMMY Award for Best Rap Performance, Will Smith blew the crowd up at the 41st GRAMMY Awards with his Best Rap Solo Performance-winning "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It." Smith would also return to the GRAMMY Stage just two years later, at the 43rd telecast, this time linking back up with DJ Jazzy Jeff for a Fresh Prince revival and medley of Smith's solo hits "Freakin' It" and "Wild Wild West."
In the aftermath of the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, the 51st GRAMMY Awards, were marked by a particularly poignant performance of "Tie My Hands" by Lil Wayne and Robin Thicke, interpolated amongst a medley including "Big Chief" and "Feet Don't Fail Me Now" alongside fellow New Orleans-natives Allen Toussaint and Terence Blanchard. With a powerful political statement to make, Kendrick Lamar took center stage at the 58th GRAMMYs wrapped in chains and standing before a projection reminiscent of prison bars for an unforgettable performance of "The Blacker The Berry."
In a performance that both served to help publicly memorialized their fallen co-founder Phife Dawg and make a public statement of resistance against the prevailing political trends of the previous year, the surviving members of A Tribe Called Quest teamed alongside Anderson .Paak, Busta Rhymes, and Consequence for a barrier-bashing medley of "Award Tour 2017," "Movin Backwards," and "We The People…" at the 59th GRAMMY Awards.
All of these iconic performances and more are available only on Apple Music. Watch now at Applemusic.com/GRAMMYs.
The 60th GRAMMY Awards will take place at New York City's Madison Square Garden on Sunday, Jan. 28. The telecast will be broadcast live on CBS at 7:30–11 p.m. ET/4:30–8 p.m. PT.