Many were glued to their TV screens on Sunday night’s 59th Annual Grammy Awards. We all know that Black talent is the engine that drives all of American music. It was not long ago when African-American musicians were boycotting the Grammys on a regular basis due to the exclusion of Black talent, and the marginalization of Black art forms.
Remember when Will Smith led a group of hip-hop artists in a boycott back in 1988 due to his award acceptance for Best Rap Album not being televised? No? Well, it happened. He was joined by LL Cool J, Salt-n-Pepa, Kid N’ Play and Russell Simmons.
The list of Black artists who have taken umbrage with the Grammys for one reason or another is rather extensive. Additionally, Jay Z boycotted in 2002 due to an overall lack of respect for Hip Hop music. Other notable Grammy boycotters include 50 Cent, Ricky Ross and the venerable Public Enemy.
Even yesterday, Solange Knowles, who won a Grammy herself for Best Performance for “Cranes in the Sky”, alluded to boycotting the Grammys next year due to Adele winning Album of the Year over her sister Beyonce.
Although sometimes the boycotts are just ego driven, there is a great deal to be said about the award show’s history of fronting on Black talent.
Riddle us this, why is Eminem the most nominated and winningest rapper in the history of the the award show? And why does he have more Grammys than any rap artist, ever, while Busta Rhymes has been nominated five times without a win?
Perhaps it’s for the same reason Iggy Azalea was nominated for Record of the Year, Best New Artist, Best Rap Album and Best Pop Duo/Group performance in 2015, or that Macklemore and Ryan Lewis won the Grammy for Best New Artist over Kendrick Lamar and his quintessential Hip Hop styling, and swept all rap categories in 2014, or the fact that Justin Bieber was even nominated in the Best Album category alongside Adele, Beyonce and country singer Sturgill Simpson this year.
The answer appears to be in the melanin, or lack thereof. Chance the Rapper won an award for Best New Artist at this year’s awards, becoming the first Black rapper to win the trophy since Lauryn Hill in 1999. The manner that the Grammys have historically dealt with Hip Hop, poor categories and segments going un-televised, screams of the voting members’ cluelessness when it comes to dealing equitably and honestly when assessing Black talent versus White popularity.
To be a voting member, one must have creative or technical credits on at least six commercially released tracks on a physical music release or 12 on a digital album. According to Billboard.com, 12,000 of the Academy’s total 21,000 members are eligible to cast ballots. Doesn’t take a genius to figure out that most of the voters are White.
Let’s keep is a billlion, Justin Bieber doesn’t belong in the same category as Beyonce on his best day, maybe not even in the same building, nor does Iggy Azalea belong in the same galaxy as Common or Kendrick Lamar.
Yet year after year, artistic usurpers and European facsimiles of Black performers are paraded before the world and given awards that may lead some to believe it’s because they’re the best, but they certainly are not! They’re being rewarded for simply being popular, and apparently for not being Black. And that’s a major problem.