Grammys keep things status quo when it comes to Hip-Hop

It appears that once again, criticisms of society that are political in any way are perfectly acceptable in performances or particular genres only, but not when it comes to the biggest award of the night.

Kendrick Lamar won four Grammys at the 60th installment of the awards show, but could not get ahead of Bruno Mars in categories that were open to every genre.

Of the five albums nominated for Album of The Year, the least political was Bruno Mars’ 24k Magic, which was, without question, the most apolitical and happy album of the bunch.

bruno grammys 18

There’s nothing wrong with that; it’s just that it feels like another missed opportunity to reflect the actual tastes and feelings of a nation of listeners at unrest.

Choosing not to reflect that reaffirms that the Grammy committee isn’t ignorant of popular culture at large, but deliberately ignoring the changing demographics and tastes of a nation in flux, in favor of whoever sells the most and doesn’t make unwanted waves.

It’s not like there were many choices for the committee to choose from in the first place when it comes to the criteria listed above.

Lorde didn’t perform why, exactly?

Lorde’s album Melodrama was an examination of solitude and a working catharsis through that process and was most likely the runner-up in the Album of the Year category (though it’s unlikely we’ll ever know how each album was ranked).

While the committee could have easily chosen this album instead, it clearly didn’t value Lorde at all.

Reports surfaced the day of the show that Lorde was the only Album of the Year nominee not asked to have a solo performance, but instead was asked to perform as part of a group of performers, which she declined.

It’s understandable that she did, especially when the other four nominees were not asked to do the same thing. It yet again shows how far behind the Grammys are.

It’s also a reminder for someone like myself to stop expecting the Grammys to change; I was mostly disappointed at who won Rap Album of the Year.

Rap Album of the Year?

No puns intended, but DAMN was exactly that…DAMN good. There’s no denying Lamar had a solid album that strongly reflected the state of things when it comes to the mistreatment of underrepresented communities by law enforcement.

The album delivered a narrative similar to many listeners today who have experienced the institutional and societal violence practiced by some behind the badge; this is something restricted to the genre that most often discusses such topics, like hip-hop.

Jay-Z’s 4:44 spoke to similar topics via introspection from one of rap’s current elder statesmen. Migos’ Culture and Tyler, The Creator’s Flower Boy both reflected a different part of where hip-hop is right now, in terms of Billboard success and the alternative scene, respectively.

And then there was the fifth-ever woman nominated for a Grammy in the Rap Album of the Year category: Rapsody, the North Carolina veteran who’s been putting out music for over a decade.

Missed opportunity; why am I still surprised?

Rapsody had a really good album. Like, really good. Laila’s Wisdom is a soulful concoction that discusses Rapsody’s life, experiences, and topical issues ranging from relationships to abuse of power. It feels like an album made in the To Pimp A Butterfly era a few years ago, yet still different in a way.

Perhaps Rapsody didn’t win because not enough of the committee has heard of her before; perhaps it’s because her work didn’t sell the same numbers as Jay or Kendrick (which is the most likely reason).

Either way, rap fans knew she wasn’t going to win. Rapsody herself was excited to have been nominated and to be at the Grammys but also had a telling look that she knew she wasn’t going to win.

Why didn’t I know she was going to win? What could have made me possibly think she really was going to end a twenty-year span that dates back to Lauryn Hill?

Optimistic naivety is the most likely answer. But, things have to change eventually…one would hope.

Check back in twenty years from now to see if Rapsody or another very talented woman in hip-hop has broken this disappointing cycle.


Should Rapsody have won rap album of the year? Will a woman win this award sooner rather than later? Let us know your thoughts below!


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