Last year, everything was subject to scrutiny, from the companies and celebrities being considered “canceled” to the American institutions and honestly America in general being criticized for upholding unjust and racist systems.
Our award shows aren’t much different when it comes to unjust systems. The Grammys is no stranger to controversy. Many celebrities such as Frank Ocean, Kanye West, Jay-Z and more have voiced their frustration when it comes to the lack of Black representation in the award show space. For years, the show pigeonholed Black artists from the rap genre. 30 years ago, rappers even boycotted the show over the lack of recognition toward the genre.
The Grammys have designated rap and R&B categories for Black artists, however, the committee still manages to overlook those genres’ major musical artist.
This just happened for this years nomination list. Roddy Ricch had a huge year in 2020. His hit “The Box” is nominated for Song of the Year, but his album Please Excuse Me For Being Antisocial, was overlooked in all categories, despite being highly acclaimed. Lil Baby also had an amazing 2020, dominating all through the charts. Although “The Bigger Picture” did receive two nominations, his album My Turn got nothing, even thought it was his first number one album.
And finally, what’s more shocking than R&B artist The Weeknd’s chart-topping album After Hours and his hit single “Blinding Lights” getting zero nominations, but was asked to perform. He later took to Instagram, demanding transparency.
The Grammys are proving just how hard it is to crack the systemic problems in these powerful institutions.
Some losses are even a slap in the face to the black community. Who can forget when Macklemore and Ryan Lewis won Best Rap Album in 2014 for their debut album The Heist. It won over Drake’s Nothing Was the Same, Kanye West’s Yeezus, Jay Z’s Magna Carta…Holy Grail and Kendrick Lamar’s Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, The group won three out of the four rap categories.
It’s still confusing all these years later as to how they managed to beat out four rappers who changed and transfigured the entire music industry, let alone the rap game.
It’s clear the Grammys never served people of color. We hope and sometimes expected a powerful institution such as the Grammys that never gave Black artists equal respect to just do it because it’s the right thing to do, yet we have the same conversation every year. With 2021 just starting, we need to let’s go of what no longer serves us, and the Grammys should be on that list.