Chris Rock’s Brother Brings Up Tupac, Jada When Asked About Motivations Behind Will Smith’s Oscar Slap

Chris Rock performs on his Netflix special Tamborine.
(Image credit: Netflix)

The Academy Awards usually have a few viral moments, but this year’s was on another level entirely. It’s been months, but the public is still reeling from seeing Will Smith storm the stage and slap Chris Rock after he made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith. As the discourse continues, Rock’s brother has brought up Tupac and Jada when asked about motivations behind the infamous Oscars slap.

The Slap happened late into Oscars Night, when Chris Rock was presenting the Best Documentary Feature category. He cracked a few jokes at the celebs in the front row, and made a jab about Jada Pinkett Smith’s hair, seemingly unaware of her public struggles with alopecia. Will Smith would slap Rock in the face on live television in response, before returning to his seat and continuing to scream at the comic. Since then countless people have weighed in on the viral moment, including comedian Tony Rock, who is also Chris Rock’s brother. He recently appeared on the podcast Top Billin’ with Bill Bellamy, where he mused on Smith’s reactions throughout the night. As he put it,

He laughed first. So that’s not embarrassment. He was laughing. In the time they cut to my brother and cut back, he was already up walking. So maybe it was the Jada look. I think that was the accumulation of him being slapped on other levels. He said it himself, he always hated the ‘soft’ moniker. He’s soft, Jada won’t let 2Pac die, it’s always something about 2Pac. And his daughter [Willow Smith] brought up 2Pac. And I’m not bringing up family stuff that people don’t know… this is stuff that everybody knows. [Jada] commonly talks about Tupac, her relationship with 2Pac. As a married man to this woman, you’re like, ‘Damn is what I’m doing not enough?’

Well, there you have it. That’s just one person’s reaction, but clearly Tony Rock has really thought out Will Smith’s possible motivations in regards to the slap. The moment of violence was seemingly out of character for the beloved actor, who would win an Oscar for Best Actor shortly thereafter. As such, Rock seems to think that it goes deeper than his brother’s one joke about Jada Pinkett Smith.

Jada Pinkett Smith famously had a relationship with Tupac Shakur prior to his infamous death back in 1996. They met while attending the Baltimore School for the Arts and collaborated on music videos. Whats more, she even contributed to his bail at one point. Their relationship was portrayed onscreen in the biopic All Eyez on Me, with actress Kat Graham playing Jada Pinkett. 

Tony Rock is making this connection, claiming that Will Smith’s slap might have deeper issues that go back years. He cited Tupac, as well as Smith’s previous reputation as someone who is “soft” instead of being hardened by the streets. Rock is also examining how Smith went from laughing to violence so quickly, which is definitely an aspect of the drama that folks have been mystified by. Clearly the discourse surrounding the Oscars slap isn’t slowing down anytime soon.

It remains to be seen how Will Smith’s professional career recovers from this viral incident, as a number of his projects were put on pause in response. In the meantime, check out the 2022 movie release dates to plan your next movie experience. 

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Graduated with degrees theater and literature from Ramapo College of New Jersey. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid. He's particularly proud of covering horror franchises like Scream and Halloween, as well as movie musicals like West Side Story. Favorite interviews include Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee, Jamie Lee Curtis, and more.