The nominations for the Grammy Awards are in, and there’s celebrated news: Of the eight nominees for the celebrated anthology of the year Grammy, six are hip-hop/rhythm and blues.
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The nominees are Invasion of Privacy from Cardi B; By The Way, I Forgive You from Brandi Carlile; Scorpion from Drake; H.E.R. from H.E.R.; Beerbongs & Bentleys from Post Malone; Dirty Computer from Janelle Monáe; Golden Hour from Kacey Musgraves; and Atramentous Panther: The Album, Music From And Inspired By from “Various Artists,” but actually a Kendrick Lamar-curated activity on which he appears a abundant deal.
Lamar leads all artists with eight nominations, with Drake appropriate abaft him at seven. Cardi B and H.E.R. anniversary becoming bristles nominations. Amusing media is already abuzz about the representation of atramentous performers and women of blush in the nominations this year.
However, this blazon of activity occurs every time nominations appear out, and it generally gives way to a anticlimax on awards night. It’s adamantine to imagine, admitting the odds, that this year will be any different, acknowledgment to the Grammy Awards’ decades-long history of shortchanging atramentous acts alike as these aforementioned artists’ performances are answer for TV ratings. So yes, while the aberrant three women of blush actuality nominated for anthology of the year Friday is causing action amid their admirers and atramentous admirers in general, it’s apparently best to atmosphere expectations. Because if the history of this appearance is any indication, we’re alone ambience ourselves up for disappointment in February.
And here’s why …
There acquire been actual few cultural moments like the one that happened on April 23, 2016, for the ballsy music video/HBO cine premiere/album absolution for Beyoncé’s Lemonade. It apparent a atypical moment of amusing media brotherhood to and for the burning of atramentous women abounding of empowerment, healing, hurt, twirled bats and sexiness. For one hour, the absolute music apple was captivated by the assignment of adeptness from Beyoncé, who was at one point autograph an accessible letter to her cheating bedmate (the additionally megapopular nigh-billionaire Jay-Z, of course) and abatement over the generational scabs America has inflicted on atramentous women, all while putting calm one of her best complete works of art to date.
As anon as the cine was over and Beyhive (we were all associates of the Beyhive that night) flocked to our corresponding alive sites of best to acquisition the album, I beatific out a cheep about an commodity I’d acquire to address in a few months. “Working on Think Allotment #6,” I wrote in advertence to all of the fodder for arcane anticipation I got from Lemonade. “Why Adele shouldn’t acquire won the 2017 Anthology Of The Year Grammy over Beyoncé.”
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Of course, we apperceive what eventually happened. Beyoncé was nominated for nine Grammys accompanying to Lemonade in 2017 and won alone two: best music video for “Formation” and best burghal abreast album. Adele, meanwhile, won the big awards, including anthology of the year — tearfully accepting it while affliction the actuality that she herself believed Beyoncé should acquire won: “I can’t possibly acquire this award, and I’m actual humbled, and I’m actual beholden and gracious, but the artisan of my activity is Beyoncé.”
No, it didn’t booty a abnormal divination adeptness for me to adumbrate what would appear at the 2017 Grammys. But, as generally is the case, history is the greatest fortuneteller. And history tells us that atramentous artists get relegated to accessory awards and categories aloof for atramentous or “urban” artists while anybody abroad gets to adore the better trophies of the night.
Photo by Dan MacMedan/WireImage
The three better Grammy Accolade categories are album, almanac and song of the year, and the atramentous win-loss almanac in these categories is conspicuously abysmal.
Pharrell’s almanac of the year win with Daft Punk in 2014 for “Get Lucky” and Beyoncé’s 2010 win for song of the year for “Single Ladies” are the alone atramentous accolade winners in any of the three top categories back 2006. There acquire been alone three projects from atramentous artists to win anthology of the year in the 21st century. Alone one of those albums, Outkast’s Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, is from atramentous bodies beneath the age of 65, the added two actuality Herbie Hancock’s 2008 accolade for River: The Joni Letters and Ray Charles’ 2005 anthology Adeptness Loves Company. Lauryn Hill is the aftermost atramentous woman to win a Grammy for anthology of the year, for The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill in 1999.
When atramentous bodies do win Grammys, it is in separate-but-equal categories that announce the awards are about for atramentous artists. Beyoncé has won 22 Grammys in her career, including as allotment of Destiny’s Child, and alone four of those Grammy Awards don’t acquire the words “R&B” or “Urban” (or both) in them. She has appear abroad empty-handed on the 21 added nominations that don’t acquire those words. Jay-Z, Kanye West, Lil Wayne and Drake acquire not won any awards alfresco of the “Rap” category. 2Pac, The Notorious B.I.G., Nas, Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube and Accessible Enemy acquire never won Grammys in any category.
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Simply not acceptable these awards would be burlesque abundant for atramentous artists, but the way the shows are answer alone adds to the insult. Every year, atramentous artists, additional by their aerial choice totals, are accustomed arresting achievement spots in the show, alone to get shut out of the big awards.
In 2018, Lamar was the fizz artisan with seven nominations for his DAMN. album. He was marketed advanced of time as the aerialist to accessible the Grammys. He blanket the appearance but won Grammys alone for rap categories, which was agnate to 2016, back he was nominated 11 times and didn’t win annihilation but rap performances admitting addition absorbing performance.
Black artists such as Lamar, Beyoncé, Jay-Z and West acquire either absolute led or angry for the best nominations every year back 2012 (Eminem led with 10 in 2011) and been championed for those accomplishments, again put on awe-inspiring performances beneath the advocacy that this could be their year, alone to be abandoned back it was time to duke out the above trophies.
The accolade shows owe their popularity, ratings and absorption to the atramentous artists who end up with aloof accord trophies in the end. And that begs the question: Why do atramentous artists alike bother with the Grammys? I’m not the aboriginal to ask this question, as some acquire flirted with boycotting the affairs for decades. Will Smith and DJ Jazzy Jeff led a avoid of the 1989 Grammys back it was appear that no rap awards would be televised. “You go to academy for 12 years,” Smith said at the time. “They accord you your diploma, and they abjure you that airing bottomward the aisle.”
In 1991, as MC Hammer was acceptable a Grammy for best rap album, Accessible Enemy was allotment to avoid for the aforementioned affidavit Smith and Jeff did two years before. In 1999, Jay-Z began a avoid of the awards for DMX’s It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot not accepting nominated. In 2014, Macklemore acquaint a accessible acknowledgment via argument bulletin to Lamar for preposterously assault the Compton, California, MC for best rap album.
And finally, a few months ago, Jay-Z seemed to accelerate out a adumbration that he would be reigniting his antipathy for the Grammys: “f— that 0 for 8 s—,” in acknowledgment to him accepting shut out this year. Maybe his account is the alpha of a affect that neither he nor Beyoncé needs the awards. And he’d be actually right. Because the accuracy is evident: Neither atramentous bodies nor atramentous art needs the Grammys.
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Lemonade is a absolute allotment of art that gives atramentous women in accurate the blazon of joy and affirmation that alone atramentous art can accord them. Her self-titled anthology from 2013 revolutionized the way artists put out music. Lamar’s aboriginal three albums are the blazon of carefully acquainted rap music that admirers dreamed could top the archive one day.
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Jay-Z is one of the greatest songwriters. Ever. West has produced the soundtracks to the 21st century. Acquire you apparent an Essence Festival army sing forth to Mary J. Blige? Acquire you apparent absolute stadiums and clubs backfire back Drake’s music comes on? Do you acquire 2Pac and Biggie’s legacies? These artists acquire impacted the culture, and best accurately atramentous culture, in means that beat the validation the Grammys provide.
I acquire the admiration to be accustomed for your art on the aforementioned akin as counterparts, abnormally white counterparts. But history tells us that it’s all a decay of time to actuate these voters to accord atramentous art its aloof due. If atramentous bodies chock-full caring about the Grammys, the aftereffect it would acquire on the angary of the awards would do far added accident than the accident of angary acquainted from not acceptable year in and year out. Beyoncé accident out to Adele doesn’t abuse Beyoncé’s career. It aloof makes the Grammys attending asinine because the atramentous artists and ability that chase them authority the ability of accessible assessment over an more ancient award.
So feel chargeless to be blessed that Lamar, Drake or Cardi B acquire the abeyant to win a ton of awards in February, or that we may get our aboriginal atramentous woman this aeon to authority up an anthology of the year accolade to abutting the show. But aloof apperceive that it’s additionally OK to acquire the ablaze art for what it is afterwards giving more absurd awards the time of day. It deserves your absorption beneath and beneath afterwards every bottomless snub.
David Dennis, Jr. is a biographer and accessory assistant of Journalism at Morehouse College. David’s autograph has appeared in The Guardian, The Smoking Section, Uproxx, Playboy, The Atlantic, Complex.com and wherever bodies altercate about things on the Internet.
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