“It’s like inviting me over to your house for dinner. Then telling me to eat in the basement.” That was a quote from Jay-Z after he protested the Grammy’s and did not attend. Because they did not want to televise “The best Rap album” category. This is just a small sample of what it has been like for artist and fans of the genre when it comes to the award show. Some would say out of touch. Others would say, hip hop needs sub genres. Others might just say you need new blood voting that can tell the difference.
Critical or Mainstream Success?
2014, one of the biggest controversies in the history of the award show happened. Kendrick Lamar dropped his debut major label album “Good kid, M.A.D.D city.” To rave reviews and great sales figures. Signed to Top Dawg entertainment and Aftermath, Kendrick was poised to take home the Grammy for best rap album that year. Yes, you had Drake nominated as well but this was Kendricks year. Until it was not, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis took home the award to mass controversy.
“The Heist” was a success for the duo spawning several hit records. But reviews were nowhere near that of Kendrick’s reviews. This was so controversial that even Macklemore was surprised, and he posted a text that he sent to Kendrick. The text said, “You got robbed.” This is coming from the person that just won the most prestigious award for hip hop. Did Macklemore go too far by posting that? I will leave that up to you, the point is that the people behind the nominations and the people that choose the winners just do not know what hip-hop or rap is.
Why No Sub-Genre?
Post Malone who collaborates with rappers often has said on many occasions. He is not a rapper and that he makes pop music. The only people that will argue with him about it is the committee for the Grammy’s. it is not completely their fault though if you look at it. Hip-Hop is the only genre of music that does not have a sub-genre. With Rock you have Heavy-metal, Punk rock, progressive rock and so on and so forth. Why after all these years is there no sub-genre for Hip-Hop?
This is so bad that people even cram R and B into Hip-Hop. This is lack of growth on everyone’s part who have the power to change it. If an artist is such as Post Malone is begging people to not call his music Hip-Hop shouldn’t they listen? As the years have gone on and the culture has evolved, I do understand how it can be hard to choose a best rap album when it may not be your forte. But the music is out there, and it is there job to find it and award the best project for that year.
The artist deserves it, even if it’s just a nomination it could change the life of that artist and put them in a new category for the rest of their career. In the early 2000s, the committee had it easy for 7 years straight. Between 2000 and 2006, you only had three acts that won the award. Eminem, Outkast, and Kanye West, with those projects being hands down the best of those years. when you have quality talent that drops that consistently, they are doing your job for you essentially.
Does the Committee Even Listen to Hip Hop?
This also became problematic for the committee as they got use to the big names and the big names only. The Kanye West of the world became a crutch, what happens when those names do not drop, and new names come up? Do you really give it a chance? Or do you just stick to what you know? It feels like this committee sticks to what they know and cannot or will not leave that space. In 2017 when Mixtapes could be counted as albums. This became a big deal as Chance the Rapper won for his “Coloring Book” mixtape.
Some thought this would be a turn for the better and more people would get the recognition they deserved. But this is not the case every year there will be a snub. It happens almost everywhere like in sports with the NBA all-star game and the NFL pro bowl. This is different, this is about who does not bad mouth the event until the artist who bans the event is to big to ban. Like Drake or Jay-Z, this is a problem that will keep going until you get the right people in place to listen and give the music the respect it deserves.
You cannot cram everything you do not understand or do not like into one genre. It is okay to say you have Hip-Hop and Pop Hip-Hop. For every J.Cole you have a Pitbull, Flo Rida, Post Malone. Just because they utilize R and B singers or Hip- Hop rappers do not mean it is the same thing. This will be a problem until enough people evolve such as the genre has. This does not have to be as big of a deal as it is every year.
This Shouldn’t Last Forever
But it is and at some point, we must ask ourselves. Is that what the award show wants? Something to keep us mad and talking and something that can help the program stay relevant for years to come?
I do not know; I just know this is not a problem that is out of anyone’s control. This is not a nuclear crisis or a pandemic, it supposed to be a celebration. The only thing some Hip-Hop fans want to celebrate is, the end of the show altogether.