Every year the Grammys come and go. Every year I say “I’m not going to watch it this year.” Every year I end up watching the Grammys. This year, I was utterly disappointed in the Academy.
Kendrick Lamar has put out jaw-dropping albums since he stepped into the hip-hop/rap scene, but he still has not walked away with the title Album of the Year.
Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City was nominated for Album of the Year in 2014, but was beat out by Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories. To Pimp a Butterfly was nominated for the same award in 2016 but was defeated by Taylor Swift’s 1989. Usually the third time’s the charm, but when DAMN was nominated for Album of the Year just a few weeks ago, Bruno Mars ended up taking home the title Album of the Year for 24K Magic.
I work in a store that sells music. I didn’t recall 24K Magic getting as much attention as Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN, Jay-Z’s 4:44, or Lorde’s Melodrama which were all contestants for Album of the Year. Metacritic is a site that “aggregates reviews of media products” and averages the score from each review. On Metacritic, DAMN scored 95 out of 100 points. The second highest score with 91 points is Melodrama. Third place is 4:44 with 82 points. 24K Magic scored 70 points out of 100.
I’m not claiming 24K Magic didn’t deserve to be recognized, because it certainly did. It was a catchy album with songs anyone could dance to, but it didn’t tackle the hard questions. It didn’t tackle social justice, political issues, racism, or mental instability. These topics are found throughout Lamar’s fourth studio album.
We’re living through a pivotal point in history where the choices we make can either cause groups of people to feel liberated or isolated. When 24K Magic was announced as the winner for Album of the Year, it was like the Academy chose to avoid the issues and struggles that American people face. They chose to put the spotlight on a fun, 33-minute pop album instead of a deep and personal hip-hop/rap album that was filled with zesty beats, intricate rhymes, and relevant topics.
This could have been the year that hip-hop/rap artists were not completely shut out at the Grammys, but it turned out to be the complete opposite. Although it feels like hip-hop/rap artists were snubbed this year by the Academy, it is important to note that it was also the first year in Grammy history that a white male was nowhere to be seen in the nomination lineup for Album of the Year. Maybe the Academy is still reluctant to give hip-hop/rap albums the prestigious title of Album of the Year, but they are willing to give them the recognition of a nomination.
I will just have to see for myself if the Grammys turn out to be different next year. Hopefully they will be.