Will Smith Was Going to Be a Surprise Grammys Performer — but Had to Drop Out for 'Bad Boys 4'

Questlove revealed Sunday that Will Smith was supposed to join the Grammys' 50th hip-hop anniversary tribute

Will Smith and Martin Lawrence Confirm Bad Boys 4 Is in the Works: 'It's Official, Y'all!'
Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. Photo: Will Smith/Instagram

Will Smith was set to make his musical comeback at the Grammys Sunday night — but had to cancel the surprise.

The Fresh Prince was originally supposed to be part of the 65th Annual Grammy Awards' 50th anniversary of hip-hop tribute performance, Questlove — who produced the over 10-minute-long performance — told Variety. Host Trevor Noah previously insinuated there would be a few surprise performances, however, Smith, 54, had to drop out after starting to shoot 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 this week," Questlove, 52, told Variety on the red carpet. "There were a lot of preliminary shots that he had to do, so we had to lose Will."

Questlove. Lester Cohen/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Questlove detailed his process of choosing which performers he wanted to see on the stage, culminating in a total of 27 minutes of performances that he ultimately cut down to 14. Though he was eager for Smith to surprise the audience, he was understanding, adding that getting Smith was "a shot in the dark" since the actor is "always shooting movies."

The four-time Grammy winner said there were a lot of people in the production who were also busy, and he was understanding of their need to accommodate their schedules.

"We had a lot of people, and some of them have other jobs," he said. "[Queen] Latifah and LL [Cool J] had to leave their respective shows to come and do this so there were a lot of legit reasons why we couldn't be all-inclusive of some people. I promise you it's going to be amazing"

And amazing it was — the performance included a homage to Nelly's 2002 "Hot in Herre," 1988's "My Mike Sounds Nice" by Salt-N-Pepa and Spinderella, and Busta Rhymes pairing with Spliff Star to recite all the lyrics from his featured jump into Chris Brown's 2011 single, "Look at Me Now."

Rounding up the stage of performers were Big Boi, De La Soul, Grandmaster Flash, Grandmaster Mele Mel & Scorpio/Ethiopian King, DJ Drama, Future, Ice-T, Lil Baby, Rahiem, Rakim, The Lox, Method Man, Public Enemy, Queen Latifah, RUN-DMC, Too $hort, Scarface, and Swizz Beatz. The performance ended with a production of Lil Uzi Vert's 2022 hit "Just Wanna Rock."

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While Smith couldn't make the show, he was reuniting with his fellow Bad Boy Martin Lawrence in a video posted to his Instagram Tuesday teasing the new movie. "IT'S ABOUT THAT TIME!" read the caption.

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