Did Hip Hop Take an “L” in the Grammy’s?
In an award show where Jay-Z was up against the likes of Childish Gambino and Kendrick Lamar, the 60th annual Grammy Awards really looked like Hip-Hop was about to run the table. Wrong. Amazingly, but wrong nonetheless.
Here’s an article from Forbes Magazine speaking the same. Check it out.
Why The Grammys Were An Epic Hip-Hop Bust Despite Kendrick Lamar’s Wins
The 60th annual Grammy Awards ceremony was supposed to be the one where hip-hop finally got its due. The genre, now officially enshrined as America’s most-consumed, found itself atop the list of nominations–Jay-Z with eight, Kendrick Lamar with seven. Up-and-comers like Cardi B and Lil Uzi Vert also garnered looks from the Recording Academy.
Even before the start of the main event, Lamar took home three Grammys in the non-televised Premiere Ceremony, winning Best Rap Performance, Best Rap Song and Best Music Video for “HUMBLE.” And he was expected to capture more hardware, particularly Album of the Year, which would have been only the third hip-hop album to achieve that honor.
“Hip-hop, man … it showed me what it was to be a true artist,” Lamar said after taking home the award for Best Rap Album. “It’s really about expressing yourself for the world to evolve.”
Yet the end of the night, hip-hop went home without any major category wins, and many of its brightest stars were left with more questions than awards. Bruno Mars swept Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Album of the Year, topping Lamar and/or Jay-Z in all three categories. Best New Artist went to Alessia Cara ahead of Uzi. Jay-Z and Cardi B went a combined 0-for-10 in award winning (though the former emerged with a bigger victory).
6oth Annual Grammy’s an Epic Bust for Hip Hop.
All in all, it was an epic bust for the genre currently driving the much-ballyhooed recovery of the music business. Total music consumption was up 12.5% industrywide in 2017, according to Nielsen, with R&B/Hip-Hop accounting for nine of the ten most popular songs of the year in addition to officially becoming the most-consumed genre for the first time.
Hip-hop acts were also front-and-center on numerous Forbes rankings in 2017, including the Celebrity 100 list of top-earning entertainers. The four highest-paid stars on the planet: hip-hop mogul Diddy, frequent rap collaborator Beyoncé, lone exception J.K. Rowling and streaming king Drake. Tellingly, the latter has skipped the Grammys in recent years.
No Other Rap Awards Given TV Time?
“They don’t air the other rap awards on TV,” he explained (though the Grammys did broadcast Best Rap Album and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration this year), adding that he’d felt “alienated” in the past for only being nominated in hip-hop categories. Stars have been voicing the same sentiment for years, dating back to Will Smith and Fab 5 Freddy in 1989.
Some may point to the fact that Kendrick Lamar took home five Grammys as evidence that hip-hop finally got a fair shake. But, echoing Drake’s point, the only award Lamar won outside of the rap categories was Best Music Video (for “HUMBLE.”)–not exactly a major category triumph. So why the lack of support for hip-hop in the midst of what should have been a night affirming its contributions to the music industry? There are probably two possible explanations.
First, it could be that rap loving voters were split between Jay-Z and Lamar (you could throw Childish Gambino in there as well, though his latest album was more soul than hip-hop), leaving Mars challenged only by Lorde for Album of the Year (the Grammys’ lack of female representation is fodder for another piece altogether) and by “Despacito” in Record of the Year (this argument actually makes the gargantuan hit’s Grammy snub even more mind-blowing).
Second, it’s possible that Grammy voters have become comfortable enough with rap music to nominate hip-hop albums and songs, but not to actually vote for rap in the major categories (obviously, that wouldn’t preclude someone like Lamar from winning rap awards, because the Recording Academy is selecting from a pool made up entirely of hip-hop acts in those categories).
The reality is most likely somewhere in between the two. Unfortunately, there’s no good way to get a definitive answer.
The Grammys did feature hip-hop performances prominently, leading off the proceedings with a powerful collaboration between Lamar and U2 (and Dave Chappelle). Cardi B performed with Bruno Mars. DJ Khaled took the stage with Rihanna and Bryson Tiller. But trotting out hip-hop acts is one thing. Actually supporting the genre through votes is another.
Ultimately, the Grammys are the product of a democracy, and no single person can control the voting process. That said, like any democracy, the Grammys won’t accurately reflect the will of the people unless the people actually vote (qualified individuals can sign up here). And changing the composition of the body voting is really the only surefire way to change the composition of future Grammy results.