Black Community: The Grammy’s – Yes, The Category Matters.

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( It’s Black History Month, and it never fails…we can’t get through our month without the shenanigans. The Grammy’s rolled themselves around here again, and as always, they cause chaos and confusion. There is the one perspective that Black artists should not concern themselves with the Grammy’s as we have been disappointed by the outcome of various awards every year. Even though there is more “inclusion” some would say there are still issues with the process in regard to Black artists.  Some will say, well the Academy is made up of fellow artists, and music is subjective so there is bound to be disagreements at times about various categories. I can understand this school of thought, even though I can’t say it silences the issues that can be raised regarding the Grammy’s. Then there is the school of thought that the Grammy’s matter because it is a part of what artists do for a living. It’s a part of how their music is measured per se. Just as athletes have the championship games and awards that define their careers…the Grammy’s is the same for music artists. This also makes sense.

Black Community: The Grammy’s: Yes, The Category Matters.

This year we find ourselves discussing the “Best Album or Album of the Year”, yet again. However, what was surprising to me was not that Taylor Swift beat out Beyonce’ for the award, what caught me off guard was so many of OUR people downplaying the prestige of the category. As I sat back and watched the online discussions too many of my people for my liking dismissed Beyonce having never won this category for the argument that it didn’t matter what category she won it…she has twenty-four Grammy’s. Wow, are we really going to do that? When discussing the Oscars, if a notable actor or actress has won in different categories that that is great, however we know better than to compare it to the Best Actress or Best actor category. Why are we not applying the same principle here?

Let me start off by saying this is not about Taylor Swift as an artist, this is about a systemic issue involving Black women. With that being said, let me also express that I am not a member of Taylor Swift’s fandom, nor am I a member of the Beehive. With that out of the way, let me just blatantly state the concern…a Black woman has not won Album of the Year since 1999 and that was Lauryn Hill [Miseducation of Lauryn Hill]. So, what they want us to believe is no Black woman has produced a body of work worthy of this award since 1999…however, Ms. Swift has produced four. I am not convinced and yes, I’ve listened to the music. Beyonce has won twenty-four Grammy’s and because of this number some are saying she is seen and acknowledged…the Grammy’s has nothing against her. Maybe they don’t, however it is rather odd that she has won so many, but never the big one. There are those that argued Renaissance was a good album, but it was not an Album of the Year body of work.

Okay, would you say the same for Lemonade? Are we seriously saying that Beyonce has never had an album worthy of the award, or any other Black woman for that matter? When we begin to explore this, it will lead us to the bodies of work by Black women that didn’t even get nominated…but should have. The category matters because of the weight of the award. We need to be honest about this, and that there is something wrong with this picture. Even Whoopi Goldberg said the category didn’t matter putting emphasis on the number of Grammy’s won; I found that to be interesting as Goldberg is an EGOT winner. She knows the awards, and categories hold weight. If you are a Taylor Swift fan…cool, but that has nothing to do with acknowledging there is something wrong with the absence of Black female artists from this category for twenty-five years.

Lastly, a word on Jay-Z deciding to have a word on the matter. First and foremost, let’s try to stop comparing Kanye West interrupting Taylor Swift on stage, to Jay-Z speaking his peace with the time allotted him after winning the award. Jay-Z interrupted no one, he felt his wife was slighted, and he has a history with Grammy’s, so he spoke to such. It’s not for me to judge whether he is right or wrong. What I will say is him calling out the Grammys did not discredit any award Black artists did win. We need to kill that narrative, as Black artist have been calling out the Grammy’s for years. If you have an issue with Jay-z speaking on the subject so, be it but we are not going to sit here and act like this is a first.

Furthermore, this is the same artist that stopped going to the Grammy’s in 1998 [ and he was nominated for awards for Vol II] because DMX released two albums that were all over the charts, but he was not nominated in any category for the Grammy’s. Jay-Z wasn’t silent then about his issue, and he isn’t now. So, whether you agree or disagree he’s consistent. This topic will be a conversation piece for a bit, I just wish we could see the issue. Can we not disregard the big picture in our month? Why are Black women constantly missing from this category?

Staff Writer; Christian Starr

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