Welcome to another edition of Cypher Sessions. In this issue, we get to the hot-button issue of the results of the recent Grammy Awards, and what the bigger problems are for Hip Hop besides who won what award. Without any other introduction, let’s commence the debate.
The Grammy’s are one of, if not THE biggest music event of the year in terms of who pays attention to what’s going on in the music world. It also tends to be where many of us as listeners are reminded why we don’t listen to the radio, or pay attention to awards shows such as the Grammy’s for about another year or so. This year’s award show seemed to do something that hadn’t been done in quite some time, however-it gave the stage to many acts that hadn’t been presented with such notoriety before. Sure, acts like Imagine Dragons and Lorde had dominated popular music for most of the year; but, while these acts over-saturated the market they were not household names until their songs broke the music world each time their respective hit came out. The performances as well were quite good for a year of not having an artist be overly dominant for an extended period of time. The show as a whole was an impressive mix of artists new and old, and many of the artists performing were new to a large portion of the audience. However, the Grammy’s truly surprised those of us in the Hip Hop world with a decision that on the surface, may seem to have been yet another miscue, but in reality was a gift to us all for the future-a controversial rap album of the year.
This isn’t about slandering Macklemore and decreeing that Hip Hop is being gentrified and we must put a stop to these “outsiders”. This isn’t about placing Kendrick on a pedestal and declaring that anything the gifted upstart creates can do no wrong, and that he is the “one to beat”. This is honestly about realizing how far Hip Hop has to go to actually show some evidence that it’s grown, and has artists (and more importantly, FANS) that really are open and willing to multiple perspectives, ideas, and view points. So many people out there have reduced this award selection to race, specifically Black versus White. A few others have reduced it to money and politics. These things of course play a role in this discussion. What is important to realize is that it is not nearly that simple of a topic, but a complex issue that seems to be getting less and less discussion and more and more polarizing arguments.
Debate and disagreements are definitely healthy to have about any topic, but when we as fans and artists hold these discussions and often times end up being more closed off to other view points, Hip Hop loses. This divide is yet another perfect opportunity (among hundreds of others offered up every time something controversial happens) to respond and craft art that is thoughtful and creative. When Kendrick received all that attention for his “Control” verse? THAT was an opportunity that was seized by other artists to compete and work harder on their art.
Artists should be working this diligently on their art all of the time, and fans should expect and demand nothing less. That doesn’t mean that the competitive spirit has to be utilized to make music that is only boastful or proving why one is so talented (though at some point it’s expected); it can instead be creating funnier songs, happier songs, mind-bending songs, genre-bending songs, etc. The list is endless, when one thinks about it. If Hip Hop can seize this moment and re-focus all that attention into even better music (as some artists have continuously been doing), then Hip Hop wins and helps its own health. If not, don’t be surprised to sometime in the next year hear about Hip Hop being under intensive care (yet again).
That’s going to do it for this edition of Cypher Sessions. Agree or disagree? Comment in the section below, and let us know how you feel about where Hip Hop is right now. Until next time, thanks for reading, and peace!