Unlike most of the people who are online griping about the Grammys right now, I actually voted for the nominees. I am a member of the Chicago chapter of NARAS (National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences) and since the Grammys is a peer based award, for the past 2 years I have been casting votes for the artists who's work inspired me. This year, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis definitely got some votes from me. But so did Kendrick Lamarr.
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis won best new artist and three major rap awards: best performance and best song for Thrift Shop and best album for The Heist. Kendrick Lamarr, the people's champ, won none.
Of course, the first thing people did when they found out was cry racism. And I can understand why. The politics of being a white artist doing urban music have been a big discussion this year, and it has factored heavily into urban music over the past several years. The thing is, though, can we really accuse Macklemore of the annoying "cultural appropriation" that a lot of artists have been guilty of over the past year? Think about it... THINK ABOUT IT... Nah. We can't. He seems like a cool well-respected dude who's hard work should inspire everyone.
But does that mean those same biases didn't factor into the voting process? Many people might not know this, but the rap committee of NARAS initially tried to keep Macklemore and Ryan Lewis out of the rap categories, saying that their pop success would impact their wins and it would inhibit other deserving but less commercial acts from getting recognized. Is that what happened to Kendrick? Personally, I don't think playing the race card is the solution here. If it was, I'd whip that bitch out and wave it through the air, but nah. Keep the race card in your pocket today, this ain't that.
When Kendrick's mixtapes exploded onto the music scene a couple years ago it might have seemed like he had overnight stardom, but he was actually hustling independently for years prior just like Macklemore. The thing about hip hop is that it is the message of the younger people, so what's big in hip hop is usually helping to shape whats happening in the street.
Kendrick is a winner to me. The world knows the truth even if the Grammy community doesn't. No disrespect to nobody else, just being honest.
— NIKKI x LYNETTE (@NikkiLynette) January 27, 2014
I can't explain to you what it means to not only African American culture but urban culture in general to have an intelligent, creative artist like Kendrick coming with some substance, to counteract all the bullshit that does the contrary. Macklemore has substance too, but with more pop appeal. Should he be punished for his success? Hell to the no. This is America, fuck that so much. At the same time, the popularity stuff should not factor in when we are talking about giving a peer based award like a Grammy. The real question is do voting members of the Grammy Academy actually follow these policies? Do members in various genres who might not know much about another genre actually go listen to the music of the nominees before casting their vote? I sure as hell do. The academy gives us access to ALL the music that was nominated, so we can make educated decisions. Are we all doing that? HUH?
You wanna know why I think Kendrick didn't win any awards? It's because there are not enough younger people who are knowledgeable and passionate about rap joining NARAS and voting for what we love. If you don't believe me then go ask your favorite indie hip hop artist if they ever tried to join NARAS so they can vote. I bet a bunch of them qualify to join and don't even know it. If there were more of us voting, maybe Kendrick woulda got the recognition that he clearly deserves. I do not think Macklemore should have been excluded from the rap categories, not at all. As an artist who's music blurs the genre lines, I would be a hypocrite if I said that his pop influences and mainstream appeal should have disqualified him from being nominated. Not if we are talking about being fair and actually recognizing outstanding artists. The fact of the matter is the Grammys is a PEER BASED AWARD, based on what people in the academy vote for, so if year after year we are pissed that our faves are not winning awards then more music makers need to join and vote. Plain and simple.
Every performance after Kendrick and Imagine Dragons has been like the experience of drinking orange juice after brushing your teeth.
— NIKKI x LYNETTE (@NikkiLynette) January 27, 2014
As an indie artist I'm happy for Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. As an urban artist I am sad for Kendrick. But let's be realistic... will this be kendrick's last time being nominated? HELLLLLLL NO. DID YOU SEE HIS PERFORMANCE WITH IMAGINE DRAGONS?!?! Kendrick is gonna have a long career, that man is on his way to being a legend, he'll get his recognition. I love Kendrick and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis for different reasons. Instead of being pissed about tonight's outcome, let's just take it as a win that rap with substance is currently beating out the bullshit. When that's happening, we all win.
Filed under: blogging