The 53rd Grammy Awards are upon us, and music’s biggest, most prestigious awards show will feature a number of killer performances, appearances and potential acceptance speeches from the likes of Eminem, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Cee Lo Green, Muse, Arcade Fire, B.o.B, Justin Bieber, Lady Antebellum, Jay-Z and scores of others. In order to appreciate what’s to come, every day the MTV Newsroom Blog will deliver a classic moment in the history of the Grammy Awards. Today’s installment: DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince collect the first prize for rap.
Considering how many hip-hop artists are nominated for major awards this year (including Eminem, Jay-Z, B.o.B and Drake), it’s strange to think of a time when rap music wasn’t represented at the Grammys. Of course, the awards were already two decades old by the time the early players started to rhyme over breakbeats, but it took until the 31st Grammy Awards to recognize great accomplishments in the fastest-growing genre of music.
On February 22, 1989, the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences handed out its first ever award for Best Rap Performance. The nominees included some first generation luminaries like LL Cool J (“Going Back to Cali”), Salt-n-Pepa (“Push It”), Kool Moe Dee (“Wild Wild West”) and J.J. Fad (“Supersonic,” which was produced by Dr. Dre and was later sampled as part of Fergie’s smash hit “Fergalicious”). Those are all classics, but the winners that night were DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, who took home the hardware for their cross-generational chart-busting hit “Parents Just Don’t Understand.”
The Best Rap Performance category only lasted on more year (Young MC won the award for “Bust a Move” in 1990, beating out Public Enemy, Tone Loc, De La Soul and denying DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince a second consecutive victory) before it was split into two new categories (Best Rap Solo Performance and Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group) that carry on today. But in the history of hip-hop and the Grammy Awards, it all started with Will and Jeff.
What’s your favorite Grammy moment of all time? Let us know in the comments!