By Sophia Yakumithis
The Grammys are white-washed. Every year, the ceremony infamously snubs minority artists of deserved wins in its general categories, boxing their success into alternative ones.
Because of these apparent racial biases, musicians have taken to social media to call out the Recording Academy’s decisions. One of the most well-known manifestations of this is in the career of Kendrick Lamar, my king.
Let me set this straight: Kendrick is one of the greatest artists of all time. Not rappers — artists. For Christ’s sake, he has a Pulitzer Prize. He is undoubtedly our generation’s most-gifted lyricist.
But the Grammys don’t think he deserves their stupid gramophones that collect dust and waste space anyway. Of 37 nominations, Kendrick won 13 for music videos or accomplishments in the Rap category.
The common denominator in every general category snub, with few exceptions, boils down to race. Pretty much all of Kendrick’s losses, even in alternative categories, have been to white artists. The exception is Bruno Mars’ “24K Magic” winning Album of the Year over “DAMN.” in 2018, but either way, that’s pretty messed up.
I don’t have the space to discuss Kendrick’s snubs in their entirety, but just know that I hate writing this.
In 2014, “good kid, m.A.A.d. city” was Kendrick’s inaugural nomination. His second studio album was a coronation in the kingdom of L.A. rap, bridging old- and new-school West Coast vibes. Unfortunately, the Compton artist’s effort lost Album of the Year to Daft Punk’s “Random Access Memories” — which I didn’t even know until I Googled it — and was snubbed Best New Artist to “rap” duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.
I was shocked when “good kid, m.A.A.d. city” also lost Best Rap Album to Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ literal mayonnaise album, “The Heist.” Did I mention these dudes are super caucasian?
I know an award that might be better suited for them: Cringiest Rap Album! Since I have more snubs to plow through, you can read about how Macklemore is, as Drake put it, “wack as f—” for his response to the win.
Then in 2016, while the pantheon of Black empowerment that is “To Pimp a Butterfly” was nominated for Album of the Year, it only won Best Rap Album, and Taylor Swift’s vanilla yogurt “1989” took AOTY.
“To Pimp a Butterfly” is an amalgamation of issues such as systemic racism, gang violence and politics. It’s one of the most important artistic contributions to modern-day Black America and its plight. Apparently, “I’m feelin’ 22” is more syntactically meaningful than the lyrics in hard-hitting songs such as “Alright.”
This brings me to my next point: “Alright.” Black Lives Matter demonstrators across the country adopted the song’s chorus as an anthem. But the Grammys’ Song of the Year was Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud.”
WHAT? I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO SAY! I AM HAVING A STROKE AT THIS JOKE OF A ONE DIRECTION SONG BEATING A CONCEPTUAL CRITIQUE ON JUSTICE REFORM AND CELEBRATION OF UNIVERSAL BLACK LOVE!
But, “To Pimp a Butterfly” should not have won Album of the Year, and “Alright” should not have won Song of the Year — both should’ve won a . Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Next we have Kendrick’s Pulitzer-winning “DAMN.,” which remained in Billboard’s top ten for more than 25 straight weeks and was the most celebrated album of 2017. It went double platinum and was an empowering chaser to “To Pimp a Butterfly,” focusing on similarly existential themes.
To no one’s surprise, the 2018 Grammys took a massive dump on “DAMN.,” giving the AOTY award to — drumroll, please — Bruno Mars’ mainstream pop “24K Magic.” Of “DAMN.”’s seven nominations, it won five, four in the Rap category.
I will throat punch someone. Moving on. NO!
Finally, “Black Panther: The Album” earned Kendrick eight nominations at the 2019 Grammys and only won one. Want to guess which one? Good job! Best Rap Performance for “King’s Dead.” As far as 2019’s AOTY goes, I don’t know who Kasey Musgraves is, but guess what? She’s white.
Let me stop before I die. All I have to say is, the Grammys need to stop limiting minority — especially Black — artists to alternative categories. Musical creativity has no bounds, and it shouldn’t look a certain way, either.