One of music’s biggest nights is slowly creeping up on us, with the 65th Annual Grammy Awards taking place on Feb. 5, 2023.
It is the night that our favorite entertainers, producers, and songwriters win in categories to receive the highest award in music history.
The real thing we should be looking for is black representation at awards like this. Black culture has been stolen from and mocked for decades, especially in the music industry. Looking back to 2018, Shawn Carter, also known as Jay-Z, was the most nominated artist of the night with eight nominations for his album 4:44.
However, winning zero of his nominations was a complete disgrace to this artist and his artistry. The fact the award show uses the term urban to denote black is also absolute blasphemy. Yes, there have been non-black artists that have had the same fate, but looking at history, Rhianna, Kanye West, Nas, Snoop Dogg and even Stevie Wonder are a few of many who overrun that list.
As for using the term urban in Best Urban Contemporary Album to make their “audience” feel more comfortable, it shows us there is no room for equality. In 2013, the category was introduced to the world, but many of us were confused about what it exactly was. It is an intermediary between the pop and R&B categories.
Though this may be a mirage of harmlessness, it will always be inappropriate and unreasonable to use urban as a safe conduit to describe ‘black’ things. Thoughts often come across one’s mind as to who is really in touch with reality. Who makes up these things and thinks they are acceptable?
Disappointing, but not surprising, it took ten years to recognize the category of Best Rap Performance in 1989, 30 years after the ceremony was launched and a decade after the genre first charted.
Views and ratings are among the most important things to the Grammys; they appear to nominate famous black artists with big awards such as Album Of The Year, Best Rap Album, and Record Of The Year.
However, many of them walk away with only one or two out of their many nominations. In 2018 Kendrick Lamar received seven nominations for his album DAMN and only won rap categories. They are giving off the impression Black artists are only good for rap. Regurgitating what happened to him in 2016 with 11 nominations and only winning rap categories.
Even the queen herself has been shut out by the award show. Beyoncé is undoubtedly a global superstar, but she has yet to win Album of the Year. It is quite mind-boggling that this is even a discussion.
Everyone remembers the iconic showdown at the 2016 Grammys with Beyoncé’s Lemonade and Adele’s 25 competing for the album of the year category. Adele won and cried, stating that she “couldn’t possibly accept this award” while glaring at Beyoncé. These are perfect examples of the award show’s marketing strategy to get more viewers: make black artists eye candy, yet disrespect them every time.
With this information, is there a way we could fix this issue? Many black artists have boycotted the Grammys, like Drake, The Weeknd, Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne, Wiz Khalifa, Teyana Taylor and so many more. They each have different traits but boycotted for one reason: black representation.
Some artists went as far as not performing when asked. Beyoncé was asked to perform at the 2021 Grammys but declined due to unspoken reasons, but it could be the continuation of failure to recognize black artists. More black artists, producers and entertainers should boycott the Grammys, but that would give them exactly what they want.
Though we may be shut out, it is our jobs to lead and set an example for many young black kings and queens. Continue to speak out and fight for some decency to have respect in the performing arts.
Moreover, the Grammys have attempted to grow over the years with the representation of the culture by playing R&B songs during commercial breaks, having people of color hosting and changing their board members around. But, we will truly see what happens in the future. Feb. 5 seems far, but it is closer to a better day where Black people can finally have complete fairness at this historic award show.