Questlove says Will Smith was going to make a surprise appearance during the Grammys' hip-hop tribute

The 65th Annual Grammy Awards is celebrating 50 years of hip-hop with a star-studded tribute that very nearly included the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air himself.

Questlove, who curated the 14-minute-long celebration that aired on Sunday evening, revealed that Will Smith was originally set to make a surprise appearance during the performance but ultimately had to back out because it coincided with the filming of Bad Boys 4.

"I'll give the spoiler alert away. Will Smith was a part of the festivities tonight, but they started shooting Bad Boys 4 already this week," Questlove told Variety. "There's a lot of preliminary shots that he had to do, so we had to lose Will."

Will Smith and Questlove
Will Smith and Questlove

Dave Allocca/Starpix/Shutterstock Will Smith was going to perform during Questlove's hip-hop tribute at the 2023 Grammys.

The multi-hyphenate explained that he totally understood Smith's decision to put filming first. "It was a shot in the dark," he said. "He's always shooting movies. We had a lot of people and some of them have other jobs."

He continued, "There was a lot of legit reasons why we couldn't be all inclusive of some people."

In fact, the four-time Grammy winner noted that a few of the performers — including the Roots, Ice-T, Queen Latifah, and LL Cool J — all had to "leave their respective shows" in order to participate in this week's festivities. Questlove added, "It's going to be amazing."

If Smith had made an appearance at the event, it would've marked his and Questlove's first collaboration since Smith infamously slapped Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars just minutes before Questlove won Best Documentary for his film Summer of Soul. Despite accepting the award onstage minutes afterward, Questlove has previously joked that he wasn't totally "present" when the slap happened because he had been meditating during the commercial break.

Earlier this week, Smith confirmed on social media that he and Martin Lawrence will be returning for the fourth installment of the Bad Boys franchise. "It's official, y'all!" Smith yelled. "Bad Boys for life, baby!"

The 65th Grammy Awards are airing live on CBS and Paramount+ from the Arena in Los Angeles on Sunday night.

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