EXCLUSIVE: Before this year's Oscars, Will Smith boycotted another major awards show in 1989

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EXCLUSIVE: Will Smith Boycotted the 1989 GRAMMYs Over Rap Category Diss

This year's Oscar boycott won't be the first time Will Smith has stayed home on awards night -- and ET has uncovered his blunt take on black performers being left out of another big Hollywood moment back in 1989.

Smith and his musical partner, DJ Jazzy Jeff, won the first ever GRAMMY Award for Best Rap Performance for their hit "Parents Just Don't Understand," but didn't attend the awards show because the new rap categories weren't being televised.

"We don't have the problem with the GRAMMY as an award or the GRAMMYs as an institution, we just had a problem with the 1989 design of the awards show," Smith told ET at the time. We chose to boycott. We feel that it's a slap in the face."

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EXCLUSIVE: Before this year's Oscars, Will Smith boycotted another major awards show in 1989
PASADENA, CA - FEBRUARY 06: Actor Will Smith presents the award for Outstanding Motion Picture onstage during the 46th NAACP Image Awards presented by TV One at Pasadena Civic Auditorium on February 6, 2015 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images for NAACP Image Awards)
Willard Carroll Will Smith Junior, an African-American actor, producer, and rapper in his youth wearing a large baseball cap, July 31, 1996. (Photo by Afro American Newspapers/Gado/Getty Images)
DJ Jazzy Jeff (Jeff Townes), left, and The Fresh Prince (Will Smith) are seen backstage at the American Music Awards ceremony in Los Angeles, Calif., Monday, January 31, 1989, after winning in the category Favorite Rap Artist and Favorite Rap Album. (AP Photo/Lennox McLendon)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JOHNNY CARSON -- Pictured: (l-r) Actor Will Smith during an interview with guest host Jay Leno on October 15, 1990 -- (Photo by: Joseph Del Valle/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, UNITED STATES: Will Smith holds his Grammy Award 25 February in New York. Smith won best Rap Solo Performance for 'Men In Black.' (ELECTRONIC IMAGE) AFP PHOTO Matt CAMPBELL (Photo credit should read MATT CAMPBELL/AFP/Getty Images)
Actor/rapper Will Smith arrives at the 'Enemy of the State' film premiere at the Walter Reade Theatre in New York City November 18, 1999. (Photo by Diane Freed)
LOS ANGELES, UNITED STATES: Actor and Recording star Will Smith holds up two of the three awards he won at The American Music Awards at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, CA 11 January. Smith won awards for Pop Rock Favorite Album, Soul, Rhythm and Blues Favorite Album, and Favorite Male Artist. AFP PHOTO Gerard Burkhart (Photo credit should read GERARD BURKHART/AFP/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, UNITED STATES: US actor Will Smith (C) arrives with his wife Jada Pinkett Smith (L) and his son, at the 59th Annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, CA, 20 January 2002. Smith is nominated for Best Actor-Motion Picture Drama for his role in 'Ali.' AFP PHOTO/Lucy NICHOLSON (Photo credit should read LUCY NICHOLSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Will Smith on 'The Tonight Show with Jay Leno' at the NBC Studios in Burbank, Ca. Friday, March 8, 2002. Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.
Will Smith and his sons arrive for the premiere of 'Spider Man' at the Mann Village in Westwood, Ca., April 29, 2002. photo by Kevin Winter/ImageDirect
Best Male Performer winner for 'Ali', Will Smith at the 2002 MTV Movie Awards held at the Shrine Theatre in Los Angeles, Ca., June 1, 2002. (photo by Kevin Winter/ImageDirect)
WESTWOOD, CA - JUNE 26: Actor Will Smith, his wife Jada Pinkett and his family attend the film premiere of 'Men In Black II' at the Mann Village and Bruin Theaters June 26, 2002 in Westwood, California. 'Men In Black II' opens in theaters nationwide on July 3, 2002. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Will Smith at 'The Tonight Show with Jay Leno' at the NBC Studios in Burbank, Ca. Thursday, June 27, 2002. Photo by Kevin Winter/ImageDirect.
SANTA MONICA, CA - APRIL 12: Will Smith during Nickelodeon's 16th Annual Kids' Choice Awards at the Barker Hangar April 12, 2003 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Robert Mora/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - MAY 7: Actors Will Smith (L) and his wife Jada Pinkett Smith arrive at the premiere of 'The Matrix Reloaded' at the Village Theater on May 7, 2003 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - JANUARY 20: Actors Will Smith (L) and Ice Cube arrive at the premiere of MGM's 'Barbershop 2: Back in Business' at the Chinese Theatre on January 20, 2004 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
CANNES, France: US actor Will Smith and US actress Angelina Jolie (R) ride into shore at the Carlton Hotel beach on a promo float for their film 'Shark Tale', 14 May 2004 at the 57th Cannes Film Festival in the French Riveria town. AFP PHOTO BORIS HORVAT (Photo credit should read BORIS HORVAT/AFP/Getty Images)
Will Smith accepts the award for favorite pop/rock male artist at the 33rd annual American Music Awards in Los Angeles on Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2005. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Actor Will Smith gives the victory sign to reporters upon his arrival at Ciampino airport in Rome, Friday, Nov. 17, 2006. Smith is in Rome to attend the expected wedding of actors Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, likely to take place at a medieval lakeside town outside Rome, Bracciano, on Saturday. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
Actor Will Smith waves to fans as he arrives at the premiere of the film "Kit Kittredge: An American Girl" in Los Angeles, Saturday, June 14, 2008. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
Will Smith makes the award presentation for achievement in visual effects during the 81st Academy Awards Sunday, Feb. 22, 2009, in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
From left, Jada Pinkett Smith, her children:Trey Smith, Jaden Smith, Willow Smith, and husband Will Smith, and Charlize Theron pose together at the Simon Wiesenthal Center annual National Tribute Dinner in Beverly Hills, Calif. on Tuesday, May 5, 2009. Will Smith was honored by the center with its highest honor, the 2009 Humanitarian Award, which was presented by Theron.(AP Photo/Matt Sayles)
HONOLULU, HI - JANUARY 12: Actor Will Smith waits on a tee during the Pro-Am at the Sony Open at the Waialae Country Club on December 12, 2005 in Honolulu, Hawaii. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
U.S. actor Will Smith arrives for the UK Gala Premiere of Seven Pounds at a central London cinema, Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2009. (AP Photo/MJ Kim)
Cast members U.S. actor Jaden Smith, left, Hong Kong actor Jackie Chan, second left, U.S. producer and actor Will Smith, second right, U.S. producer and actress Jada Pinkett Smith, center, and U.S. actress Willow Smith react as they arrive for the gala premiere of the film Karate Kid in London, Thursday, July 15, 2010. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)
Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, producers of "The Karate Kid," pose together at the premiere of the film in Los Angeles, Monday, June 7, 2010. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
Will Smith arrives at the premiere of the documentary film "Justin Bieber: Never Say Never," in Los Angeles, Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2011. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 17: Will Smith (R) and his daughter Willow Smith listen to testimony at the 'The Next Ten Years In The Fight Against Human Trafficking: Attacking The Problem With The Right Tools' Committee Hearing at the Hart Senate Office Building on July 17, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/WireImage)
US actor Will Smith signs autgraphs as he arrives for the German Premiere of the movie "Men in Black 3" in Berlin, Germany, Monday, May 14, 2012. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)
Actor Will Smith looks at the scoreboard in the second half of an NBA basketball game between the Philadelphia 76ers and the New Jersey Nets, Friday, April 13, 2012 in Philadelphia. The Nets won 95-89. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Actor Will Smith poses upon his arrival for a press conference to promote his new movie "Men in Black III" in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, May 7, 2012. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
Will Smith, left, and his son Jaden Smith pose for photographers during a press conference to promote their film "After Earth," in Tokyo, Thursday, May 2, 2013. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)
Will Smith, left, and Jada Pinkett Smith arrive at the Oscars on Sunday, March 2, 2014, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Dan Steinberg/Invision/AP)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 0001 -- Pictured: (l-r) Actor Will Smith with host Jimmy Fallon during the 'Evolution of Hip Hop Dancing' skit on February 17, 2014 -- (Photo by: Lloyd Bishop/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEWARK, NJ - MARCH 28: Actor Will Smith (R) presents his wife, actress Jada Pinkett Smith with the Star Power award onstage during 2015 'Black Girls Rock!' BET Special at NJ Performing Arts Center on March 28, 2015 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic)
Actor/rapper Will Smith listens for the crowd's response during his performance at the annual Wango Tango Music Festival at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., Saturday, June 15, 2002. A wide variety of performers including Mary J. Blige, Celine Dion and No Doubt were featured in the all-day music festival. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
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Earlier this month, Smith joined forces with his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, in boycotting the Academy Awards, telling Good Morning America that had he been the only black actor nominated in the major acting categories this year, he'd still skip the awards ceremony in a stand for more diversity. Last week, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced "historic" changes to double the number of women and "diverse members" by 2020.

More than two decades ago, Smith didn't mince words with ET when it came to the GRAMMYs. Though Smith and Jazzy Jeff -- real name Jeffrey Allen Townes -- said that they were "ecstatic" to be nominated and win the award, the disrespect shown to the rap categories caused them to lead a genre-wide boycott, which led to most rap artists skipping the GRAMMYS.

"They said there wasn't enough time to televise all of the categories," Townes said of the official explanation he was told by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, the GRAMMYs' governing body. "They televised 16 categories and from record sales, from the Billboard charts, from the overall public's view, there's no way you can tell me that out of 16 categories, that rap isn't in the top 16."

Rapper Kool Moe Dee was one of the few artists who didn't participate in the boycott, taking Smith's spot as presenter for the Best R&B Male Vocal and using his televised moment to perform a short rap about his fellow nominees, declaring the genre "here to stay."

WATCH: Jada Pinkett Smith Addresses Janet Hubert's Diss Over Oscars Boycott

"Kool Moe Dee is the outcast of the rap industry," Smith said, unimpressed by the performance. "What he's teaching younger kids is, look, don't stand up for what you believe in. He's teaching them if you work hard all week for $200 a week, look if the boss only gives you $150, just take it. You know, we're not teaching that. You stand up for what's yours, you stand up for your rights."

Smith told ET that the goal of the boycott was to raise the profile of rap music and boost its recognition in the industry as a whole.

"They don't know anything about rap music," he said of NARAS. "Our boycott was to open their eyes to rap music so next year, some rapper will be able to perform at the GRAMMYs and the awards will be televised because the music is large enough and important enough to be on the show."

In that way, it worked. The 1990 GRAMMY Awards not only aired the awards for Best Rap Performance -- Young MC took home the golden gramophone for "Bust a Move" -- it started a trend that continued for the next 25 years. Ironically, last year's GRAMMYs were the first since Smith's boycott not to televise a rap category.

WATCH: 'Fresh Prince' Star Janet Hubert Says Will and Jada Pinkett Smith Are 'Pretenders'

So, what would Smith have said if he accepted his GRAMMY back in 1989?

"This award is for Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, but it's for everybody," he told ET. "It's for Salt-N-Pepa. It's for Kid 'n Play. It's for everybody in the rap industry and this is a milestone in our career and it's a milestone in the history of rap. We're just happy to make history and we just wish it could have gone down differently."

WATCH: Will Smith Would Still Boycott Oscars Even If He Was the Only Black Actor Nominated

Will Smith Says He'd Still Boycott the Oscars Even If He Was Nominated

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