10 Best and Worst Hip-Hop Moments at 2020 Grammy Awards
Music’s Biggest Night is normally dedicated to celebrating the accomplishments of some of the brightest stars in entertainment, but the 2020 Grammy Awards were a bit different on Sunday night (Jan. 26). News of the tragic deaths of legendary Los Angeles Lakers player Kobe Bryant and eight others, including his 13-year-old daughter, set the tone for the ceremony that had previously planned tributes for the late singer Prince and Nipsey Hussle.
However, the 2020 Grammy Awards, held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles and hosted for a second time by 15-time Grammy Award winner Alicia Keys, wasn’t all about the blues. There were a few highlights. DJ Khaled (who took home on Grammy), Tyler, The Creator (Best Rap Album winner), Nipsey Hussle (two posthumous award wins), Lil Nas X ((Best Music Video for "Old Town Road"), Anderson .Paak (he took home a couple of R&B trophies) and 21 Savage (winner of the Best Rap Song award for his J. Cole-assisted “A Lot”) joined Billie Eilish, Dave Chappelle and Lizzo in this year’s Grammy winners’ circle.
The likes of Quavo, Cardi B, LL Cool J, Common and Swae Lee, among others, attended the event, which featured an exciting performance from Tyler, The Creator and an extended remix of Lil Nas X’s inescapable hit “Old Town Road,” featuring an all-star crew that included Billy Ray Cyrus, Diplo, K-Pop group BTS and big Nas.
But with the good comes the bad. Unfortunately, the hip-hop moments that should've been televised were not. A few of the rap category winners weren't showcased for the live audience. 21 Savage's win for Best Rap Song didn't make it to TV and neither did Lil Nas X's Best Music Video for "Old Town Road."
And while it's customary for the "wrap it up" music to start playing at awards shows when a winner goes too long with their acceptance speech onstage, Tyler, The Creator wasn't too far into his speech before the music starting cutting into his air-time. Fortunately, he got the chance to finish his message.
Award shows can be a gift and a curse. Here, XXL highlights 10 of the best and worst moments at the 2020 Grammy Awards. Take a look below to see who made the list.
Best: DJ Khaled's "Higher" Wins Best Rap/Sung Performance
DJ Khaled, Nipsey Hussle and John Legend win the Grammy Award for Best Rap/Sung Performance for "Higher." The track, from Khaled's latest album, Father of Asahd, makes Nipsey a two-time posthumous Grammy winner. Earlier in the night, Nipsey won a Best Rap Performance Grammy Award for "Racks in the Middle" featuring Roddy Ricch and Hit-Boy.
Worst: Nipsey Hussle’s Best Rap Performance Win Not Televised
The Grammy Awards have had a complicated relationship with hip-hop since the categories were introduced in the late 1980s. More than 30 years later, some things don’t seem to change. At the 2020 Grammy Awards, Nipsey Hussle’s first Grammy win at the show was not televised. The late rapper won Best Rap Performance for his track “Racks in the Middle” featuring Roddy Ricch and Hit-Boy.
Lauren London and Nipsey’s family accepted the award on the rapper's behalf, but their speech was only truly seen via the internet, and, of course, Twitter and Instagram. “Nip was a phenomenal vessel,” Lauren began. “Nip did it not just for the awards, but for the people. And God allowed him to use this music to speak his truth and give his wisdom.”
Watch Lauren London accept Nipsey Hussle's Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance.
Best: Lil Nas X, DJ Khaled and Lizzo Honor Kobe Bryant
Although it was Music’s Biggest Night, NBA great Kobe Bryant was on the mind and in the heart of many of the celebrities in attendance at the 2020 Grammy Awards.
Lizzo closed her scene-stealing opening performance with a shout-out to the sports icon, while Lil Nas X opened his set sitting alongside a Bryant replica jersey. DJ Khaled, Meek Mill and the rest of the crew also showed love to No. 24 during their inspiring all star tribute to Nipsey Hussle.
“He would want us to keep the vibration high,” said a noticeably shaken Alicia Keys, who in memory of the five-time NBA champion, serenaded the audience in L.A.’s Staple Center with “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye To Yesterday,” accompanied by Boyz II Men.
Worst: Producers Try to Cut Short Tyler, The Creator's Speech
It’s no secret that the Grammys are running on a tight schedule, but can't they let a brother speak? The Recording Academy attempted to silence Tyler, The Creator during his acceptance speech for Best Rap Album, with Igor taking the win.
Unlike last year with Drake, who was silenced for giving a candid opinion about the current state of the Grammy Awards relationship with hip-hop or the awards show's relevancy, Tyler just ran a little long. The 28-year-old rapper went down a long list, thanking his friends and family for sticking by him before being interrupted by loud music to cut him short.
Best: Run-DMC Reunites With Aerosmith to Perform “Walk This Way”
Legendary rock band Aerosmith followed a performance of their classic hit “Livin’ on the Edge”—the winner of the Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal at the 1994 Grammys—by reuniting with some of hip-hop’s first superstars, Run-DMC. The two iconic groups hit the Grammys stage together for a rendition of their ground-breaking, rock-hip-hop mash-up “Walk This Way,” which peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the late 1980s.
Worst: Lil Nas X's Best Music Video Win Not Televised
Just like Nipsey, Lil Nas X’s first Grammy Award win was not televised. The six-time Grammy nominee won Best Music Video for his platinum-selling, No. 1 hit “Old Town Road.
The five-minute music video for the song, which features appearances from comedians like Chris Rock and rappers like Rico Nasty, was lauded for its comedic elements and all-star cast.
Rightfully so, Lil Nas X deserved to be tonight’s winner, but the world should have been there to witness this moment with him.
Best: Tyler, The Creator Performs “Earfquake” and More
“Yall gon stop counting me out!” tweeted Tyler, the Creator, who brought the theatrics to the 2020 Grammy stage. The blonde wigged-rapper and producer put on an electrifying performance that saw him teaming up with everybody’s favorite uncle Charlie Wilson, as well as Boyz II Men. He performed the fan-favorite “Earfquake” and “New Magic Wand” from his Grammy-winning album Igor.
Worst: Sharon Osbourne Stumbles Over DJ Khaled's Name
Famed rocker Ozzy Osborune and his wife Sharon Osbourne hit the stage to announce with winner for Best Rap/Sung Performance to the surprise of many. When it came time for Sharon to announce the nominees, the English television personality seemed out of place, mispronouncing DJ Khaled's name while stumbling over every other artist honored in the category.
Best: Nipsey Hussle Receives All-Star Perfomance Tribute
After being awarded his first Grammy Award, Nipsey Hussle—whose song “Racks in the Middle” won for Best Rap Performance during the ceremony���was honored with a very special performance.
The star-studded tribute, which featured DJ Khaled, Roddy Ricch, YG, John Legend and Kirk Franklin, celebrated the life of the fallen rapper with a new heartfelt verse from Meek Mill, whose lyrics were dedicated Nip. John Legend helped take those in attendance and everyone watching from home to church with a powerful performance of “Higher.” The Grammy Award-winning single featured Nipsey and appeared on Khaled’s Father of Asahd album.
Worst: Lil Nas X Loses Best New Artist
After a 2019 like Lil Nas X had, including breaking an all-time record of 17 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and going 11-times platinum with "Old Town Road," being crowned Best New Artist at the 2020 Grammy Awards was not far-fetched. Unfortunately, all the viral social media moments and his music accolades were not enough to secure him the award he deserved.
Instead, singer Billie Eilish went home the winner, an honor she also deserved for her No.1-selling album, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?