I don’t usually watch the Grammys, and didn’t watch them tonight. Part of the reason is because my musical taste (especially in rap) falls somewhat out of line with most popular consensus (I don’t listen to the radio, my favorite album out is because the internet by Childish Gambino, and I was completely underwhelmed by Magna Carta Holy Grail, both the Samsung deal hype and the album itself).
But the biggest reason I don’t watch the Grammys is because some of the best artists usually end up getting snubbed, and this year is no different. In recent years, the artist has been Kanye West, someone who consistently redirects the sound of popular music every time he drops an album, but has few trophies to show for it. Tonight, an uproar came stampeding down you and I’s timeline to defend Kendrick Lamar, the Compton kid largely considered the best rapper out with his highly lauded “Good Kid, M.A.A.D City“, who lost in several categories to the independent label phenoms of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and their album “The Heist”.
Now a head-to-head comparison of Macklemore’s to Kendrick’s skills on the mic would probably leave the “Thrift Shop” MC biting the dust. But the fact is that as I’m writing these words, Macklemore now has more Grammys than hip hop greats like Snoop Dogg, DMX, and Nas……..and Tupac…….and Biggie…..and Kendrick.
Yes, the majority is not going to agree on who is the Best New Artist or who made the Album of The Year (unless it’s Adele. She should win everything, always). But we all know how much the Grammys voting process rewards popularity. And while there has been many critiques of Macklemore’s relatively quick ascension being facilitated by white privilege rather than making spectacular art, the iTunes numbers rest squarely on his side of the debate.
So what can we do to ensure that the artists we love secure the accolades we assert that they deserve? Go on passionate Twitter rants about how much you hate Macklemore or the Grammys? Voice your immense displeasure by jumping in on the #Grammys hashtag while the show is on, but thinking nothing of it tomorrow morning?
The answer is simple: SPEND YOUR MONEY
Though the Grammys does have a committee doing the voting, as a general fan, you cast your vote by simply buying your favorite artist’s album instead of bootlegging it. Go buy Kendricks album if you haven’t already. Go to his shows when he performs in or near your home city. Invest in the outcome that you would like to see. Grammy’s aren’t always won by the best artists, but they are still won by pretty good ones. The fact is those good ones often have better numbers giving them the edge in the popularity contest, and ultimately, the award.
In order to win, you have to play the game. In order for artists like Kendrick Lamar to get the recognition they deserve, we have to put our money behind them. We’ve done it before, seeing as we demanded rap have a seat at the Grammy table in 1996.
You may or may not be part of the problem, but let’s simmer down on our complaints if we don’t want to be a part of the solution. Spending money sucks. You don’t have to tell this grad student. It’s much much easier to get an album from a friend or download it illegally. But if you don’t want to support your favorite artists with financial backing, and not just social media praise or outrage, then do like I do: don’t watch the Grammys.
Congrats to Macklemore & Ryan Lewis on all their achievements. “The Heist” was a great album. Do I think they made works of art as good as Kendrick? Definitely not. But they still deserve the accolades, because their fans made sure of it. And if Kendrick keeps going off in performances like this, he’ll be collecting gold in no time.
We Out Here,