As the music industry goes, the Grammy Awards is the pinnacle for establishing an artist’s place among the elite. But The Recording Academy has caught flack for past nominees and its selection criteria. Some of the biggest names in music have spoken out against the awards, and some have even skipped the ceremony due to a lack of acknowledgement for diverse artists.
Kanye West is one who has never held his tongue about the Grammys, speaking out after the 2015 Awards for awarding Beck Album Of The Year over Beyoncé. “The Grammys, if they want real artists to keep coming back, they need to stop playing with us,” West said at an after-awards special. “Because what happens is, when you keep on diminishing art and not respecting the craft and smacking people in the face after they deliver monumental feats of music—it’s disrespectful to inspiration.”
While it’s easy to boycott the biggest award in your field when you’ve won several of them in the past, Kanye still may have a point. The Academy missed good music in the nominees and winners of past years in the eye of music critics and casual fans alike. And then there was the outcry last year, after Beyoncé was nominated for nine Grammy Awards for Lemonade and only won two of them. And we can never forget Macklemore and Ryan Lewis winning Rap Album of the Year at the 2014 Grammys over Kendrick Lamar and the publication of Macklemore’s “heartfelt” text message to Kendrick telling him that the “Swimming Pools” rapper should’ve won. Even in today’s musical climate, it appears that the biggest names in music, who happen to be Black, are still searching for their seat at the table.
But it seems that The Recording Academy is looking to rectify past wrongs with its latest slate of nominations.
Black music is popular music, and that is finally clear in the 60th Grammy Awards nominations. Hip-hop and R&B swept the major categories such as Album of the Year and Record of the Year. Four out of the five nominees for Album of the Year—Childish Gambino, JAY-Z, Bruno Mars, and Kendrick Lamar—are prominent figures in hip-hop and R&B. This is the first year since 1999 that a white man wasn’t nominated for Album of the Year. The nominees for Record of the Year feature all urban music artists, outside of Justin Bieber’s nomination for his part on Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s record “Despacito,” which was one of the biggest songs of the year.
The Academy also showed a lot of love to the rising artists in the game, with talented acts like Khalid and SZA both receiving five nominations for their debut albums, Tyler, the Creator earning his first ever solo nomination for his standout album Scum Fuck Flower Boy, Lil Uzi Vert receiving a nomination for Best New Artist, Cardi B receiving not one, but two noms for “Bodak Yellow,” and Rapsody getting a nom for Best Rap Album for Laila’s Wisdom.
It seems The Academy actually got it right this year. Now let’s see if our favorite music standouts actually bring home the hardware— because for some, the Grammys still mean everything.