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DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince were the first rappers to win a Grammy

UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1970: Photo of Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

On the night of February 22, 1989, During the 31st Grammy Awards, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince‘s won Best Performance for Parents Just Don’t Understand, which appeared on the duo’s second album, He’s the DJ, I’m the Rapper. “Parents Just Don’t Understand” was the first song to win a Grammy and DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh () were the first rappers to win a Grammy. LL Cool J, Salt-N-Pepa, Kool Moe Dee and J. J. Fad were also nominated in the same category that year. “Parents Just Don’t Understand” peaked at No. 12 on the Hot 100.

After finding out the new rap category would not be aired on television, didn’t attend the event to accept their award. Russell Simmons and Lyor Cohen led a boycott of the 1989 . DJ Jazzy Jeff, The Fresh Prince, LL Cool J, , Salt-N-Pepa, Ice-T, and more boycotted together.

DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince were the first rappers to win a Grammy
UNSPECIFIED – CIRCA 1970: Photo of Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Kool Moe Dee and J. J. Fad attended the event. While Kool Moe Dee went on stage to present the award for best male vocal, he made a statement

“On the behalf of all M.C.s
My co-workers and fellow nominees
Jazzy Jeff, J. J. Fad,
Salt-N-Pepa and the boy who’s bad
We personify power and a drug-free mind
And we express ourselves through rhythm and rhyme
So I think it’s time that the whole world knows
Rap is here to stay – drummer, let’s go!”

The Grammys boycott worked, the next year, The Grammys aired the award for Best Rap Performance (Young MC won for “Bust A Move”).

Read: Naughty by Nature’s “Poverty’s Paradise” was the first album to win Best Rap Album at the Grammys

DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince Grammys Boycott
Los Angeles Herald Examiner, February 23, 1989 Adler Hip Hop Archive, Cornell Hip Hop Collection, Cornell University Library

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