The 600-pound gorilla that’s in the room—the one nobody really wants to acknowledge—is becoming harder and harder to ignore. On the biggest night in music, it’s looking like those who are of the belief that there is an active movement to have Black music without Black people are being proven correct.
Ask yourself, in the Doug E. Fresh/Slick Rick voice, “Am I lying?” and the instinctive answer will roll off the tongue, “No, you’re quite right!”
The proof was hammered home four times with the following sentence, “And the Grammy goes to … Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.” The pair won Best New Artist, Best Rap Album (“The Heist”), Best Rap Song (“The Heist”) and Best Rap Performance (“Thrift Shop”). The operative word being “best”!
Sorry Kanye West, Jay Z and Kendrick Lamar, the Grammys have spoken. Nothing new here, it’s an annual tradition for Black music. Hopefully though, a proactive movement can occur as artists themselves become more vocal. India.Arie, a victim to Grammy politics, took pen to paper to lend voice to her feelings about the Recording Academy running a popularity contest instead of a night that’s representative of the best quality music of the year. On her Tumblr page, she wrote, “Kendrick Lamar was robbed, but he was not the only one who was robbed. Personally, I was pleased he was able to perform and they killed it! One of the few moving moments of the night for me. Though it’s called ‘music industry’s biggest night,’ the Grammys are not about the music; it’s a popularity contest. The voting process allows people to vote on name recognition alone—the music industry politics is a whole [other] conversation. Too much to go into here.
“The American Music Awards is a show that awards sales and popularity—the Grammys are said to be about the music. If the hip-hop community voted on hip-hop—the R&B community the same—same for each category—we’d see winners that reflect the music itself. We all know that’s just not the way it goes.
Now the bigger losers are all of Black music. Where was the Black music community represented in last night’s Grammy show? Performers and winners (or not) … where were the Black artists? And this isn’t the first time the Grammys [have] had a show all but excluding young Black America and Black artists in general, although we set the world’s musical trends. Why not televise the Lifetime Achievement Awards of the Isley Brothers? Surely they deserved to be on [the]televised stage last night while other artists were onstage twice?
“The truth is, in a perfect world, diversity would matter and respect would be rampant, but the truth is, the Grammys [are] a television show, and in that world, ratings reign supreme. So, in general, bigger names take the stage, and sadly, the biggest names often times are bigger drawn along racial lines from the release of an album, i.e., marketing dollars and just general support. It’s unfortunate.
“I don’t even get surprised any more, but it still hits my sense of fairness, because I know many of the artists who are overlooked. I live in that world. We keep showing up and subjecting ourselves to the game, hoping maybe we’ll win. I was so happy to see Kendrick Lamar take that stage because it is a form of winning. At least he was seen.
“Speaking of diversity, congratulations to my personal favorite albums of the year: Gregory Porter’s ‘Liquid Spirit;’ real Snarky Puppy and Lalah Hathaway on your win; and thank you, Pharrell, for acting right in the presence of the greatness that is Nile Rodgers and Stevie Wonder.
“Love to all Soul Birds worldwide.
“P.S. No mention of Nelson Mandela at all? … and this is why we need the Image Awards and the BET Awards.”
Truth! Can only follow that with an over and out, holla next week. Till then, enjoy the nightlife.