The Grammys are absurd
As everyone knows, the 61st Grammy Award Show took place last night. The night was filled with inspired performances – along with dreams finally realized for some, and crushing disappointment for others. It’s the most prestigious award show in the country for the biggest artists of our generation, yet it has lost all credibility among fans. To preface this post, I’d like to make it clear that I am happy for every artist who took home an award last night. These people have dedicated their lives to their craft and are all deserving of recognition. Two of my personal favorite artists (Young Thug and Future) took home their first ever Grammys last night, an accomplishment that highlights their incredible careers to this point. That being said, it’s become evident that this ceremony does not reward quality music as many believe it should. Last night was no exception to that.
The most prudent problem with Academy Award Show that was outlined last night was the lack of respect for the genre of Hip-Hop as a whole. Yes, last night was the first time ever that a Rap song won the category Song of the Year. This was accomplished by the track This is America by Childish Gambino (as a writer and background voice, Young Thug was also honored with this song). And yes, that win was an accomplishment for Hip-Hop in and of itself. But the song was only so highly recognized because of the underlying message and powerful music video that highlighted the problems in our society. By no means am I trying to take this accomplishment away from Gambino as it was a brilliant song that immediately jumped on everybody’s radar because of its vast impact. But as big of a win as that was for Hip-Hop, the genre suffered a crushing loss in the category of Album of the Year. The winning album for that category was a country album called Golden Hour by Kacey Musgraves. Now props to Musgraves for her album being the first country album since 2010 to win the category. But as an XXL Magazine article stated early today, what must Hip-Hop have to do to win one of these things? It’s evident that Hip-Hop is the biggest genre in all of music right now, the creativity and evolution is unmatched by anything. Do I believe Scorpion by Drake, Invasion of Privacy by Cardi B or Beerbongs and Bentleys by Post Malone were good enough to win album of the year? No. But in the year 2018, no genre had a bigger impact than Hip-Hop, and that should have been acknowledged with this category. That’s just the first of many reasons why the Grammys are becoming a joke to fans.
The second of these reasons, as previously mentioned, is that the awards just aren’t about music. They should be, but they’re not. Last night, Cardi B became the first female artist ever to take home the award of Rap Album of the Year with Invasion of Privacy. Congratulations to her. However, in a conversation with my brother about last night’s award show, he outlined the problems with this by saying:
“You know, it really doesn’t count to call her the first woman to win best rap album if she only won so that she could be called the first woman to win such”
Let me be clear: I have no problem with a woman winning this award. Cardi B is one of the biggest stars in music and absolutely has the fan base and listens to justify her win. But therein lies the problem. I personally believe that the Academy saw the opportunity to give this award to a female for the first time ever, and disregarded everything else. This award was not given to her because her music was better than the other nominees. Yes, music is an opinion. But come on. Pusha T has been in the rap game since 1997. He has never received the respect he deserved UNTIL 2018 when he released a near perfect 7-track album entitled Daytona. This album was the perfect medley of masterful beats (produced by mega-genius Kanye West), hard hitting bars and topped off with a Drake diss-track that left the entire listening-base stunned. The nomination alone is proof that this album was special. After 2-and-a-half years of silence, Travis Scott announced the release of his highly-anticipated Astroworld album. The expectations placed on this album by fans was unlike anything seen in recent history of rap. When it was released, Astroworld completely shattered expectations and then some. The album was 17 tracks long, and not a single track was a miss. When expectations of this magnitude are placed on a project, it’s extremely difficult to avoid backlash when the body of work is released. The fact that Travis Scott largely avoided this backlash is evidence that this should’ve been THE album for him. Mac Miller is another rapper who has been releasing quality work throughout his entire career. In 2018, however, he evolved. His album Swimming was unlike anything he’d ever released before. It was a beautiful, haunting, soul searching redemption album that restored faith that Miller was finally moving forward after his heart-breaking split with pop-star Ariana Grande. The music alone was enough to net him the award. And then, suddenly, he suffered a death that impacted everyone even remotely familiar with him as an artist, person or inspiration. Before the show, the academy invited his parents to accept the award on his behalf, as a final tribute to the late rapper. Everyone and their mother (and myself) assumed the Grammy would go to the fallen soul. Alas, that didn’t happen. I’ve stated that I believe the award should be strictly about music, and I stand by that. But who in their right mind thought it would be a good idea to invite his parents, get their hopes up, have them prepare speeches and outfits, just to watch their son’s final chance at the award go by the wayside for an album that, in a musical sense, didn’t even compare. Let me reiterate – I have no problem with a woman winning this award. But I would go so far as to say there were female rappers who released better works this year than Invasion of Privacy (Whack World by Tierra Whack, Room 25 by Noname). Cardi did not receive this award for her musical prowess, she received it for her social standing among the rap game and because the Academy saw their chance to give it to a female and disregarded everyone else who was deserving. The Grammys don’t reward music, they reward what’s popular.
I have one last gripe with the results of last night that I feel needs to be acknowledged. It’s absolutely criminal that Travis Scott left the show empty handed after the year he had. I acknowledge that his auto-tuned new wave style isn’t as easily digestible as the pop-rap style of people like Drake. I acknowledge that people over the age of 25 are typically opposed to his methods. He’s not my personal favorite, but we’re talking about THE defining star of the biggest musical movement of the generation. This is a guy who hasn’t missed on a track since his Rodeo album. With the monumental expectations placed on Astroworld and the positive receptions it was met with, it sure as hell felt like this was THE album for him. Only nominated for two categories – Rap Album of the Year (Astroworld) and Rap Song of the Year (Sicko Mode) – it still felt like he would end the night with some sort of recognition. Again, the Grammys failed to acknowledge the most person who deserved it the most. The problems with his loss in the Album of the Year category have already been outlined, so I won’t go into that. But the fact that Drake’s hit song God’s Plan beat out Sicko Mode for Rap Song of the Year is almost equally stunning to me. My brother pointed out that the Academy had to acknowledge Drake in some way (which hurts to hear, but that doesn’t make it any less true) and that God’s Plan was a “mega mega hit”. Okay, sure. But 1. Sicko Mode was also a mega mega hit and 2. Drake was ON Sicko Mode, he still would’ve received recognition if it had won. Sicko Mode fits all the criteria for Song of the Year, it was brilliant, held the #1 Song in America title for months and ended up being so grossly overplayed that even people like me became Sick of it (pun intended). Nobody would’ve bat an eye if the two stars shared the award with a win for Sicko Mode, but once again, the academy failed Travis Scott, his fans, and the integrity of their award show as a whole.
Artists still view Grammy wins as an accomplishment. They should. It’s the most prestigious award show in music. That being said, it’s sad the the most prestigious award show in music doesn’t reward the actual music. While I’d like to think that will change soon, I have absolutely no confidence that will happen. As fans, the best we can do is stick to our guts, support the people we deem worthy of it and continue to appreciate and love the music that really deserves it.
“Then tell the Grammys to go and f**k themselves, they suck the blood from all the biggest artists like some leeches” – Eminem