The 2016 Grammy Awards have come and gone but the after-buzz still remains: Was Kendrick Lamar robbed?
Even before February 15th came it was predictable that Kendrick was not going to win the Grammy for Album of the Year. It was impossible. And living through the social and political climate that we are in, the Grammy awards ceremony this year held much more value. That’s why the impossible mattered. That’s why Kendrick matters.
Back when the nominees were first announced on CBS News, in December 2015, hip-hop fans found comfort in learning that Kendrick was the most nominated person of the 2016 Grammy Awards. Just shy of Michael Jackson‘s record of most nominations in a single year (back in 1984), Kendrick was awarded 11 nominations.
He ended up winning five of them – an accomplishment in itself after what many had referred to as a snub from the Grammy’s in 2014. But even if has been two years since Macklemore and Ryan Lewis won the Grammy for Rap Album of the Year, beating out Kendrick’s good kid. m.A.A.d city, the question still remains – When it comes to the Grammy’s, is social commentary controversial? Is political expressionism hurtful?
Hip-hop is the microscope into what history really is: it’s gritty, it’s raw. It’s not censored or guarded. Isn’t that what we should all strive to be? And isn’t that what music is for?
Pop music hasn’t had as much as a progression like hip-hop has from Kendrick’s To Pimp A Butterfly. That’s what makes Taylor Swift‘s Album of the Year win troublesome. Every nominee in that category deserved the award. But when an album moves a culture that’s something different. That’s the impossible. That’s Kendrick.
And not everyone likes Kendrick. He’s too much for some people. That’s understandable but also a large part of the problem. If you’re afraid of the truth then why watch the news? Hip-hop is narrating it for you. Kendrick is narrating it for you. That’s the only difference.
It’s funny though. Kendrick was not the only rap album worthy of a Grammy this year. I am not afraid to question or debate his sweep of all the rap category Grammy’s this year. Even though Grammy are supposed to be awarded with no influence from sales or commercial performance the Grammy’s still, and will continue to award that way when it comes to recognizing hip-hop music. Who knew that the genre specific categories were just an extension off of the general field categories?
Kendrick was no where near unworthy of his wins. But many might not be aware that Grammy voters can vote in any category. So if someone is not familiar with people outside of your typical hip-hop heavyweights, how can this culture be properly celebrated? The rap categories needed a bit more diversity in them just like the Album of the Year category (and general field categories) did also.
That’s what makes Taylor Swift’s win controversial. If Taylor Swift ruled pop music these past few months then hip-hop music ruled hip-hop these past few months. It’s made a bigger name for itself that a hip-hop musical actually took home a grammy. It’s made a bigger name for itself that a documentary about one of the biggest and most controversial music groups in hip-hop grossed over $200 million at the box office. It’s made a bigger name for itself that even the President of the United States and the White House has given it more recognition. It’s made a bigger name for itself that itls leading peaceful protests and discussion all across the nation.
That’s why hip-hop won at the 2016 Grammy Awards. A trophy is nice but the advancement and unification of a culture is something much nicer. That was evident Monday night.
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