Rox: Lamar snub gives Grammys bad rapWritten by Martini Rox | | email@example.com
The Grammys aired Jan. 26, but the ceremony has left a lasting impression, particularly on the hip-hop community. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis swept the rap categories, beating out hip-hop audience favorite Kendrick Lamar.
There is no question that Lamar was deserving of the Best Rap Album, among other Grammys, and even Macklemore sent him a humble text stating, “You got robbed.” I do not expect to be liked or popular for what I say; The Academy could care less about what the streets say.
The Academy nominates and votes on the winners and are subsequently the reason you hear them thanked profusely. The Academy is made up of singers, songwriters, producers and other music industry elite. The possibility of them listening to your favorite street rapper’s album is slim because they are not familar with music from the streets.
What I do fault the Grammys for is not paying enough attention to lesser known standouts, as they do in other categories. Every year there are new artists or talent winning in other genres we learn about on Grammy night. Why can’t this happen in rap categories and why does the winner have to be a commercial and crossover success? They obviously do not listen to hip-hop as a whole, which should be required when judging an entire category of artists. It would be easy to suggest that they add a hip-hop category but the Academy went through a major overhaul in 2012. The changes consisted of generalizing many of the Grammy categories, cutting the total from 109 to 78.
Macklemore and Lewis’ album “The Heist” was one of my favorites in 2012, and it remains one of my favorite independent albums reviewed to date. It is unfair to blame them as they had a great album with meaningful messages, great subject matter and socially conscious content. This is exactly what hip-hop is about.
However, many in the rap community question whether Macklemore should be considered hip-hop. My answer is absolutely! He is, after all, rapping with a DJ/producer over musical instruments and beats.
I will be the first to admit that besides the single “Thrift Shop,” “The Heist” was not blasting in inner city neighborhoods across Toledo, but that does not dismiss them as contenders for Grammy rap categories. There are hip-hop purists who would disagree, but I’d like to remind them of the difference between hip-hop and its commercially successful cousin rap. In 1989, another Grammy winning duo by the name of DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince received backlash due to their commercial success. Twenty-five years later, respect is paid to these hip-hop pioneers and all is forgiven. Will Macklemore receive the same respect in 25 years?
Is all the fuss because Macklemore and Lewis are white? It couldn’t be that; the majority accept Eminem as a winner every time. Could it be their lack of street credibility? Maybe. You have to give credit where it’s due — Macklemore was an independent artist who had three commercially successful singles and went platinum. He managed to raise social consciousness with “Same Love” in support of Referendum 74 for gay marriage in his home state of Washington. “Can’t Hold Us” was everywhere including Microsoft commercials and “Thrift Shop” gave the OK to not having a lot of money to spend on clothing.
I don’t think it’s a problem with the group per se, but with the significance of that Grammy moment where its true meaning has escaped the race of the people who helped make it great. I know African-Americans are making quality music, but it is hard for the masses to hear over the ignorance to which they are subjected.
This year’s rap Grammy sweep came as a surprise to Macklemore just as much as it did to the hip-hop community. I will never discredit Macklemore and Lewis’ win, as they relentlessly worked an independent 2012 release until it produced their desired results.
As we continue on …
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