The nominees for the 60th anniversary of the Grammy’s demonstrate just how much Hip-hop and R&B govern the prevailing musical landscape. In recent years acts such as Adele, Daft Punk and Mumford and Sons have won the highest accolades. Many commentators are speculating that this is Hip-hop’s year. Only Lauryn Hill (1999) and OutKast (2004) have won Album of the Year and no Hip-hop track has even been awarded record or song of the year. Jay- Z’s ‘4:44’, Kendrick Lamar’s ‘DAMN’ , Childish Gambino’s ‘Awaken, my love!’ , ‘24K Magic’ by Bruno Mars and Lorde’s ‘Melodrama’ are contenders for album of the year- the highest prize.
The Grammy’s decision to not include any white male solo acts in their list for best album has stoked controversy in some quarters. Critics are citing it as an example of how far political correctness has seeped into the national consciousness. Whilst others praise the organisations attempt to promote diversity and to recognise talent of black artists. Others have argued that the divisive awarding of Adele’s ‘25’ over Beyonce’s acclaimed ‘Lemonade’ at last year’s ceremony explains the exclusion, as the Grammy’s attempts to rectify its past mistake and appease confrontational detractors. Even Adele herself was disparaging of the choice, as she stated in her acceptance speech that “the Lemonade album, was just so monumental, and so well thought out, and so beautiful and soul-baring, and we all got to see another side to you that you don’t always let us see.” The move to the online voting system helped the nominations become more inclusive and accessible to the 13,000 members who have the right to vote.
Fans of Hip-hop have been critical about the omission of A Tribe Called Quest’s ‘Got It from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service’ comeback album, which was released to critical acclaim last year. Q-Tip tweeted “F*** da Grammy’s” as the band failed to pick up any nominations. This took on a particular potency because of the passing of fellow group member Phife Dawg in March 2016 and many agree that there should be recognition of the impact that the group has had on musical culture and the current rap generation – many of whom may be picking up awards instead.
The Grammy’s official mandate is “to cultivate the understanding, appreciation and advancement of the contribution of recorded music to American culture”. However, there is no denying that the nomination lists are made up of almost entirely commercially successful acts. Trap, Hip-hop, Pop and R&B sell so they are awarded accordingly, whereas Rock has become increasingly sidelined and Jazz, Funk, Reggae and Soul are rarely mentioned. Perhaps this imbalance is just a reflection of the popularity of certain musical types. But that does not mean that other genres should be completely cast aside, especially as they inspired elements of the more trendy sounds.
Article by Yohannes Lowe.