The Grammys have demonstrated for decades that they, in no uncertain terms, don’t really give a damn about Black music – especially hip-hop. In 1989 – decades before social media possessed our lives – DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince boycotted the Grammys because they wouldn’t televise rap wins. Will Smith was part of biggest rap act in the world at the time (imagine that, Millennials), so their boycott mattered.
But the Grammys have still spent the 30 years since then treating Black music like the red-headed stepchild; the 2018 ceremony felt especially caucasoidal, with more U2 than anyone needs in the 21st century. Sunday’s 61st Grammy Awards felt almost like it was designed to make up for that and acquiesce to Black folks, similar to the 2002 Oscars when Denzel Washington won for Training Day (maybe the 2,040th Oscar-quality performance he had), Halle “Make me feel good” Berry won for Monster’s Ball and Sidney Poitier won an honorary award.
There were many moments from the ceremony, good (Ayeee, Michelle Obama!) and bad (we’ll get to that), that still have Black Twitter on one the next day. Here’s my rundown of the most noteworthy Black moments from the ceremony:
Leave Alicia Keys alone, y’all: Somewhere around the time that Keys got with her now-husband Swizz Beats, she went from beloved, talented R&B songstress to a “home-wrecker” who couldn’t carry a note with the finest Fendi bag. Does she have the pipes that resonate with your whole-ass soul? No, but I’m not going to allow you all to develop amnesia like Keys didn’t give us some of the dopest mid-aughts bops that still ride.
I’m glad Childish Gambino won, but here’s the thing…: Anyone with working eyes and ears knows that Donald Glover is one of the most immensely talented cats doing anything in the 21st century. But his historic win as the first rapper to win Song of the Year doesn’t sit well with me: From a technical standpoint, the rapping in this song is not not representative of Glover’s capabilities and there’s barely a decent four-bar stretch to be found in the whole track. Also, “This is America” is more of a cultural moment thanks to its firebrand of a video, and less something that we’re blasting on a regular basis. I’m straining to remember the last time I heard the song anywhere outside of the video.
Drake basicall said “F— yo Grammy” While accepting a Grammy: Aubrey has been firmly positioned as one of the biggest rap artists in the world for quite some time. So, when he won Best Rap Song for “God’s Plan,” he took the opportunity to get on stage and talk about how folks don’t really need a Grammy. For that bold throwing-stones-in-other-folks’-glass-houses shit, they cut his mic and the speech. He’ll be just fine.
H.E.R. took it home: H.E.R. is still a relative unknown, especially compared to the competitors in her categories, so I was happy to see her take home awards for both Best R&B Album and Best R&B Performance for “Best Part” with Daniel Caesar. Her self-titled album is full of soulful jams that a much wider audience will now get to experience. Shout out to her for performing “Hard Place,” my favorite cut from her latest EP. The crazy part is she’s only 21 years old and has so many years of a dope career ahead.
Cardi B reminds us why we love Cardi B: In taking home the Best Rap Album Grammy, Cardi becomes the first woman not connected to a group to do so. It’s easy to love her because everything about her seems genuine, including her elated and breathless response to the win. It’s also a testament to her versatility that she’s on stage accepting the ultimate musical award just a few weeks after performing at the AVN Awards, which is basically the Oscars for porn. She’ll get the speech part down at some point…baby steps!
Yeah…that Motown celebration…: Look, it’s really difficult to be a heterosexual male and not be a fan of Jennifer Lopez in some capacity. But I screw-faced like the rest of y’all when I found out she would be heading up a Motown tribute. Not because she’s not Black, but because Jenny from the Block has the vocal range of an old-school Hummer driving through city streets. But I held onto hope until I saw it. God in Heaven, it managed to be worse than I expected.
— Whorfery (@Whorfery) February 11, 2019
You can’t pay tribute to a bygone era when vocals mattered far more than looks and dancing and do it the other way around. I’m assuming Smokey Robinson is only throwing shade at haters because he was more than happy to be on stage with a minimally-dressed J. Lo. Which…well, I kinda understand.
Dustin J. Seibert is a native Detroiter living in Chicago. Miraculously, people have paid him to be aggressively light-skinned via a computer keyboard for nearly two decades. He loves his own mama slightly more than he loves music and exercises every day only so his French fry intake doesn’t catch up to him. Find him at his own site, wafflecolored.com.