Yesterday I caught some flak for calling Adele’s 25 “boring-ass” compared to Beyonce’s genre-blending visual concept album Lemonade… I stand by it. Not because Adele is not an amazing singer — she is. Not because her album wasn’t good — it was. But because the Grammys purport to celebrate movers and shakers, and musical work that is pushing the culture forward with creativity and innovation. And in giving Adele Album of the Year they didn’t do that. Rolling Stone has even theorized this could be punishment for Beyonce streaming Lemonade in its early weeks instead of releasing it the traditional way, an approach that benefits individual artists but not record labels. (Beyonce has been recently vocal about taking control of both the business and artistic side of her career.)
In a sense this is the Grammys version of “Oscars So White”; while black musicians are well represented as nominees, they are far less represented as winners outside of the “black” music categories (hip hop, R&B, urban, etc.) And even in “black” categories artists can be upset by white nominees. Consider Macklemore’s very average effort The Heist losing to Kendrick Lamar’s instant classic Good Kid, M.A.A.D City. Eminem, likewise, has had a string of Grammy wins for Best Rap Album — in 2000, 2001, 2003, 2010, 2011 and 2015, almost every year he has released an album. It’s almost as though… he’s being rewarded for being a white guy who makes rap music. And again, this is not to say that he is not talented… it is to say that his albums were not strong enough to beat out competitors like Missy Elliott, The Roots, Jay-Z, Common and Childish Gambino.
The continual snub of black artists at the Grammys is even more egregious when you consider that American music — from country to rock, blues to jazz, hip hop to pop — traces its roots to African American culture.
Some black artists have taken to shunning the ceremony altogether. Frank Ocean boycotted the Grammys this year calling the show “dated” and “out of touch with the younger generation of black artists.” He explained his decision in a lengthy all-caps Tumblr post;
“IN REALITY, I ACTUALLY WANTED TO PARTICIPATE IN HONORING PRINCE ON THE SHOW BUT THEN I FIGURED MY BEST TRIBUTE TO THAT MAN’S LEGACY WOULD BE TO CONTINUE TO BE MYSELF OUT HERE AND TO BE SUCCESSFUL. WINNING A TV AWARD DOESN’T CHRISTEN ME SUCCESSFUL. IT TOOK ME SOME TIME TO LEARN THAT. I BOUGHT ALL MY MASTERS BACK LAST YEAR IN THE PRIME OF MY CAREER, THAT’S SUCCESSFUL. BLONDE SOLD A MILLION PLUS WITHOUT A LABEL, THAT’S SUCCESSFUL. I AM YOUNG, BLACK, GIFTED AND INDEPENDENT.. THAT’S MY TRIBUTE. I’VE ACTUALLY BEEN TUNING INTO CBS AROUND THIS TIME OF YEAR FOR A WHILE TO SEE WHO GETS THE TOP HONOR AND YOU KNOW WHAT’S REALLY NOT ‘GREAT TV’ GUYS? 1989 GETTING ALBUM OF THE YEAR OVER TO PIMP A BUTTERFLY. HANDS DOWN ONE OF THE MOST ‘FAULTY’ TV MOMENTS I’VE SEEN. BELIEVE THE PEOPLE. BELIEVE THE ONES WHO’D RATHER WATCH SELECT PERFORMANCES FROM YOUR PROGRAM ON YOUTUBE THE DAY AFTER BECAUSE YOUR SHOW PUTS THEM TO SLEEP. USE THE OLD GRAMOPHONE TO ACTUALLY LISTEN BRO, I’M ONE OF THE BEST ALIVE. AND IF YOU’RE UP FOR A DISCUSSION ABOUT THE CULTURAL BIAS AND GENERAL NERVE DAMAGE THE SHOW YOU PRODUCE SUFFERS FROM THEN I’M ALL FOR IT. HAVE A GOOD NIGHT.”
Drake, Justin Bieber and Kanye also chose not to attend this year.
Solange, who was nominated and won for Best R&B Performance for Cranes in the Sky, tweeted and deleted a response to her sister’s snub.
“there have only been two black winners in the last 20 years for album of the year
there have been over 200 black artists who have performed
create your own committees, build your own institutions, give your friends awards, award yourself, and be the gold you wanna hold my g’s”
Did you watch the Grammys? Do you think Beyonce was snubbed? Why or why not? What do you think of Solange’s words?