Questlove Explained Why Will Smith Had To Back Out Of The 2023 Grammys’ All-Star Hip-Hop Tribute

We’re approaching the one-year anniversary of “The Slap.” Last March, Will Smith waltzed on stage during the 2022 Oscars and slapped Chris Rock after Rock made a distasteful joke about Jada Pinkett Smith. And though Rock declined to file charges, Smith is banned from attending the Oscars for the next decade.

Smith is not banned from attending the Grammys, though, and people noticed his absence on Sunday night, February 5. The 2023 Grammys featured a medley performance celebrating hip-hop’s 50th anniversary. The segment was directed and produced by Questlove, introduced by LL Cool J, and narrated by Black Thought.

DJ Jazzy Jeff was one of many legendary artists to perform, but where was Smith, aka/fka The Fresh Prince?

Questlove told Entertainment Tonight that Smith was “99.4 percent” committed to performing, “but they started shooting Bad Boys 4 this week, so he couldn’t make rehearsals.” Questlove added, “He wanted to do it.”

For those keeping score at home, Questlove apparently doesn’t hold grudges. Smith’s slap occurred as Rock was presenting the Oscar for Best Documentary. The award went to Questlove for Summer Of Soul, and Smith later apologized to Questlove for overshadowing his first Academy Award.

Smith posted a video last July apologizing not only to Questlove but to Rock, Rock’s mother, Rock’s entire family, his own family, and more.

“It really breaks my heart to have stolen and tarnished your moment,” Smith said to his “fellow nominees” in the video. “I can still see Questlove’s eyes. It happened on Questlove’s award, and you know, it’s like, ‘I’m sorry’ really isn’t sufficient.”

Watch the 50-year hip-hop anniversary tribute below.