“I’m here to present this award and I trust that you people will stay 500 feet away from me,” the musician, 51, told audience members at the Sunday, April 3, show ahead of giving the Song of the Year award to Silk Sonic. “Just playing.”
The Pennsylvania native went on to gush about how memorable winning can be, concluding, “You never forget your first time, and this is now a special moment for someone and we’re gonna make a memory for them tonight.”
The Roots member seemingly referenced the fact that Rock, 57, was presenting Questlove with his first Grammy when Smith’s smack stole the show. The Saturday Night Live alum announced at the time that “Questlove and four white guys” were the winners of Best Documentary Feature for Summer of Soul.
Producer Joseph Patel wrote in since-deleted tweets how “angry” this made him, writing, “The reason that makes me SO SO VERY ANGRY is because I was so proud to be one of a handful of South Asians to have ever won an Oscar in the history of the award. That’s never happened before! And it’s meaningful! It’s history! … I’m angry. Angry at Will Smith. Angry at Chris Rock. Angry for me. Angry for Ahmir. Angry for my fellow filmmakers.”
Patel joined Questlove onstage at the time, alongside Robert Fyvolent and David Dinerstein.
“This is such a stunning moment for me right now,” the DJ said during his acceptance speech on March 27. “But this is not about me. This is about marginalized people in Harlem that needed to heal from pain. And just know that in 2022, this is not just a 1969 story about marginalized people in Harlem.”
The record producer noted that he was “overwhelmed,” concluding, “I’m going to get myself together and thank everyone properly when I get off stage. […] I’m so happy right now, I could cry. Thank you.”
Questlove’s joke on Sunday was not the only subtle Smith mention at the Grammys. In his opening monologue, host Trevor Noah brought up the altercation — specifically, the King Richard star’s demand for Rock to keep his wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s “name out of [his] f–king mouth.”
“We’re gonna be listening to some music,” the Daily Show host, 38, said at the start of the show. “We’re gonna be dancing, we’re gonna be singing. We’re gonna be keeping people’s names out of our mouths, and we’re gonna be giving out awards.”