The Grammys Suck: 2016 Edition here.
Last year I wrote an article for this website about how the Grammys, well, suck. Naturally, that revelation came as a shock to exactly no one. Still, I felt it was worth pointing out that awarding rap album of the year to Macklemore and Ryan Lewis was nothing short of racist.
This year, I’m going to do basically the same thing, because, frankly it’s offensive and someone needs to say something.
One thing I neglected to mention last year was that in the 20 years since the Grammy for best rap album was created (yup, they started giving it out in 1996, a full 17 years after rap became a thing) white artists have walked away with the award eight times. Six of those were given to Eminem–a known flexer. “Slim Shady,” as he calls himself, won best rap album again last night. Which means this: if the Grammys are to be believed, white artists have made the best hip-hop record 40% of the time over the past two decades.
Wow. Is there anyone in the world who believes that to be reality? Does “the Academy” even believe that?
Nevertheless, no one besides me will be talking about how Eminem won best rap album–even though it’s thoroughly astonishing to anyone who follows hip-hop. Something much bigger happened at the Grammy’s last night (which I’ll get to in a moment). What is interesting about Eminem winning is that his record The Marhsall Mathers LP 2 might have been the best one nominated. Truthfully, it beat out a litany of other terrible rap albums, Schoolboy Q’s Oxymoron, and Iggy Azealia’s The New Classic to name a few. This is, of course, to be expected. The Grammys are well-known for their willfull ignorance of quality. It’s not as if no excellent rap albums were released in 2014, it’s just that none were nominated. In case you care, the obvious snubs are YG’s My Krazy Life, Nicki Minaj’s The Pinkprint, Isaiah Rashad’s Cilvia Demo, and of course B.G.M.’s record of the year, Freddie Gibbs and Madlib’s Pinata. The question then, is how the fuck do these people do what they do with a straight face?
The whole charade has gone beyond being laughable at this point.
Case in point, last night an adorable, very stoked, Beck won album of the year for his record, Morning Phase. First of all, I have no issue with Beck getting a little recognition. He’s a great dude who’s made a tremendous amount of awesome music in his life. None of it, however, was on, Morning Phase. I say this as someone who loves Beck–but his album was a snore and we all know it. He, like Macklemore before him, said so himself, “I thought (Beyoncé) was going to win,” Beck said, “I mean, c’mon, it’s Beyoncé.”
The fact is Beyoncé made a flawless, angelic, unbelievably sexy album. So it’s worth wondering why the academy thought Beck’s limp-dicked acoustic weepings were more deserving than her boundless heroics. I’m not alone in saying that this goes beyond tastelessness at this point.
After the awards show, Kanye West once again acted the fool and made some unnecessarily shitty comments about Beck, saying, “(he) should respect artistry,” and “should have given the award to Beyoncé.” Beck deserves credit for being cool as hell about it. In addition to admitting that he thought Bey was going to win, when Kanye tried to jump up on stage during his acceptance speech, Beck smiled at him, warmly, and said, “no, please, come back.” The thing is, Kanye’s typical dickishness obscures a very valid frustration–the academy is racist.
For those of you who don’t agree, consider this. Questlove and Herbie Hancock, two of the most accomplished musicians alive, who happen to be black, were asked to play the Grammys last night. Did they do any of their own amazing music? No. They were relegated to a supporting role, where they tastefully backed up two white musicians, Ed Sheeran (whoever the fuck that is) and John Mayer (ditto). Watch for yourself and see if you can make out Herbie Hancock’s face in the dark while Mayer blazes through a astonishingly uninspired, but very masturbatory, guitar solo.
Why on earth was John Mayer playing a solo at all? I mean, Herbie fucking Hancock was right there. This comedy of errors might be familiar to Dave Chappelle fans. Chappelle already covered the musical relevance of Questlove vs. John Mayer on his much-missed show on Comedy Central. It’s worth watching again if it’s been a while:
The only other thing to say about last night’s Grammys is that they weren’t all bad. Beyoncé’s performance was simply breathtaking. She sang a classic gospel tune made famous by Mahalia Jackson, “Precious Lord, Take My Hand.” If you’re a human being with a heart, it should give you goosebumps. The song had a special relevance for Bey as her mother used to sing it to her as a child. It too is well worth watching. Note: the black men in the background sing peacefully with their hands up. You’ll notice this is a theme with a lot of black artists right now. Here’s to hoping this is the moment we all remember from what was otherwise a night of complete bullshit.