We examine this year’s Grammy’s.
The Grammy’s are like that love interest in your life that you know is horrible for you and doesn’t bring much good, but you hold on because of the few moments where they make you smile or surprise you. It’s toxic yet we continually subject ourselves to it because of hope…or because there’s usually nothing better to watch on TV that night. Let me get into my thoughts on the evening.
First of all, fucking congratulations to Cardi B for winning Rap Album of the Year. I don’t care if you’re a fan or not, or whether you liked the album or not. Give credit where it’s due. I don’t care if you’re a rap purist who seemingly thought the Grammy’s of all award shows would give the award to a rapper who glorifies drug dealing (Pusha T) or a rapper who advocates for black enterprise (Nipsey Hussle).
That isn’t intended as shade either, I enjoyed the hell out of both of their albums and of course, I wish the Grammy’s were progressive enough acknowledge to their potential superiority to Cardi’s album in the scope of Rap. That’s asking a lot though, so for me I’ll take the pleasantly surprising slew of nominees they put together as a step in the right direction.
Y’all know I love the late Mac Miller and it would’ve been a beautiful gesture for him to win it with his family present. And Travis Scott enjoyed so many spoils during 2018 that are spilling over into 2019. His Grammy time will come. Now, when I look at Cardi’s story and all the drama she’s endured already, I can’t help but be happy and not question the choice. Numbers, acclaim and Tweets aren’t necessary for me to confirm the fact that her album was fucking fire.
When will enough be enough for us? I know, it’s the biggest night in music. It’s the pinnacle. It’s not just for us and our culture, though. There are not and never will be enough people in the room fully in touch with our genres and other genres in order to see why a Scorpion or H.E.R could have been better than Golden Hour by Kacey Musgraves. We can’t continue giving this one night of the year, catered toward recognizing all of music, the power to upset us so much. The very fact that people get nominated who a lot of fans don’t know just speaks to how broad the scope of music is.
Well, let me relax. It’s not merely one night, as once you win a Grammy your fans and media will never let the world forget it. A Grammy attached to your name is like a championship in professional sports. You’re just considered on a different level. Again though, the accolade is handed out by folks who very well may not be looking beyond the numbers to see the substantial impact. Numbers tell a lot, but never the full story.
That’s why it was especially interesting to see Drake, a huge benefitter from the numbers game, use his time after winning Best Rap Song for “God’s Plan” to tell his peers and aspiring artists “fuck them Grammy’s” in the most Drake way possible. He spoke about how the voters may not fully understand the music they make and how it comes from the heart, but if regular folk who have to work tough jobs on the daily are spending their money to see these acts live then they are already winners.
Naturally, the 6 God was met with overwhelming support from the OVO hive, and unfounded hatred from the anti-stans questioning his sincerity or labeling the speech as awkward. You can’t please everyone, but you can’t tell me he wasn’t spitting facts. People often wish Drizzy would use his platform to advocate for bigger causes than himself because his voice carries into so many different arenas, and what better way to use it than to devalue a metric in the world of music that so many artists aspire toward only to be disappointed?
All love to Childish Gambino, but I’m glad his earning both Record of the Year and Song of the Year for “This Is America” has raised important questions about whether or not the song itself was impactful or was heightened by the accompanying visual. I had that question for a while and felt it was a bit beneath Gambino’s usual output. Catchy song undeniably, but without the imagery, it fell flat for me.
It’s one thing for the “mumble rap” fad to be dominating streaming, but of all the songs that could’ve taken it for the culture at the biggest night in music…that’s the one? Again, I LOVE Donald Glover. Winning in that category is monumental. I don’t love the fact that the only non-Rap award won by a rapper wasn’t even a rap song. It might even lead to a slippery slope in terms of future nominations and considerations. Is “Thothiana” by Blueface gonna get nominated next year now?
For so long the Hip-Hop world has asked for an award show catered to us, as all we really have is the BET Awards and BET Hip Hop Awards which have both fallen off quite significantly over the last decade. There’s nothing that we feel we can adequately champion. So, we spend every year getting up in arms about folks who were or weren’t nominated, we tune in and live Tweet the show, and then for the next week half of us celebrate our few winners while the other half complain someone else deserved it more.
For me throughout this toxic relationship, I’m celebrating the small victories. Names like Future, Young Thug, Ella Mai and H.E.R earning their due recognition serves as those moments of pleasant surprise that make me briefly look at the Grammy’s like “aw, you ain’t so bad, come here.” I’m certainly going to have more thoughts to share on the evening, but for now, I’m gonna sign out before I get angry and get heated again about something. May 2020 find the Hip-Hop community and the Grammy’s at a healthier place.
Wait, just remembered what I was heated about. Why wasn’t 21 Savage‘s family allowed to attend the show until the very last minute? Why didn’t any rappers want to perform in his place? Why did it take someone not from our culture to highlight him and his absence? We can berate the Grammy’s for its inconsistency all we want, but if we aren’t standing on the front lines advocating for the things that matter most to us we won’t be heard. Aside from not knowing lyrics, I can’t think of a valid reason for any rapper present not to pay homage to the guy we adored back in December when his album dropped.
Okay, now I’m really out. Free 21.