By Daniel Paiz
It’s funny how we as Hip-Hop fans continue to look at an organization such as The Grammys© for confirmation on what we think deserves praise. The recording academy continues to ignore who puts out fully realized projects and instead opts for whoever sells the most and has name recognition.
Hip-Hop definitely won the night (again), in spite of the historic victory for newcomer Cardi B; this is not intended as any kind of malice to Cardi. It’s about more than her.
For example when Rap artist turned pop star Drake said the following in his acceptance speech:
“If there’s people who have regular jobs who are coming out in the rain, in the snow, spending their hard earned money to buy tickets to come to your shows, you don’t need this right here, I promise you that. You already won.”
then you know the award really is as invaluable as most of us have been too afraid to admit. Do you really think the recording industry has paid enough attention to even know there were women in Hip-Hop making significant contributions between Lauryn Hill winning with The Fugees in 1997 and 2019 with Cardi’s Invasion of Privacy?
Let’s dig into this bold claim of mine a bit deeper.
Redirecting one’s displeasure is the first step
I will openly admit I don’t think Cardi B should have won Rap album of the year. But, I also think the nominations weren’t as strong as they could’ve been; again, no disrespect to anyone nominated. It would’ve been poetic justice for the late Mac Miller to have won for his last album Swimming, but it’s an accomplishment the academy even nominated him.
Deciding who had the best album is of course subjective. Your tastes dictate who you thought had the better album. For a lyrics-minded/storytelling fan such as myself, it is wildly unbelievable Royce Da 5’9’s Book of Ryan not only didn’t win, but wasn’t nominated. Same can be said for at least one of Black Thought’s projects, Murs, Roc Marciano, J Cole, Mike Shinoda—the list could grow large. So of course due to my taste preferences, I genuinely can’t accept that those nominated had better albums than who I listed.
At some point, however, there has to be some consensus on projects, and that’s why those nominated received the nods. Pusha T and Nipsey Hussle also likely had no shot of winning, as neither likely sold enough or was artistically unique enough to slide by Cardi. The “I Like That” rapper has grabbed mainstream Rap and pop music fan’s attention for the past year or so, and 2019 might be her most visible year yet.
However, let’s rewind to about a year ago and look at what likely set up this historic win for Women in Hip-Hop.
Rapsody in (North Carolina) Blue
The 60th Annual Grammys came through in typical fashion, as a group of men were nominated for Rap Album of the Year in 2018. The nominations also included only the fifth woman EVER nominated for the award, North Carolina’s own Rapsody. As stated last year, Laila’s Wisdom from Rapsody was arguably the best album of 2018; it was reflective, it was lyrical, it sonically had a To Pimp A Butterfly kind of feel. Yet, it lost.
The Grammys failed again at a historic opportunity to reward an artist who has been doing what Rap always asks of those aspiring for the throne: putting in the work and representing/revering the culture. When one does what’s expected of those who come to earn their stripes, and then the stripes aren’t awarded, what kind of example are we setting in Hip-Hop?
Perhaps it’s reflective of how progress works: slowly. Cardi B winning doesn’t diminish Rapsody’s album, or any other woman who has been nominated, including:
- Missy Elliott (nominated four times)
- Nicki Minaj (nominated twice)
- Eve (nominated once)
- Iggy Azalea (nominated once)
- Rapsody (nominated once)
It only makes this fan question why it took the genius of Missy Elliott, the grit and glamour of both Eve and Nicki Minaj, the odd popularity of Iggy Azalea, and the storytelling of Rapsody to get to Cardi B winning. Perhaps next year Rapsody or Nicki win the award and this isn’t such a surprising issue anymore. However, that would require the burial of one’s head in the sand to forget how often the Grammys have disappointed this tragically optimistic Rap fan.
That 20 year estimate from last year’s article better not come to fruition, recording academy; please, remember this lesson when it comes to Women in Hip-Hop.