[COMMENTARY] The GRAMMYs Have No Respect


Who the hell left the gate open? Seriously, to whom do I send my hate mail?

If you watched last night's GRAMMY Awards, then you probably know by now that Macklemore and Ryan Lewis cleaned up with four trophies. They won Best New Artist, Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance for “Thrift Shop." If that isn't depressing enough - in a year when Kendrick Lamar, Drake, Eminem, Kanye West, Jay Z and J. Cole all put out excellent albums - the duo won Best Rap Album. Best Fucking Rap Album.

Now, the GRAMMYs are just an award show, one award show. Ultimately, the awards don't represent an objective decision on excellence in music. They're the result of a highly political process where works are submitted for consideration by record labels, placed into categories by 150 experts, then nominated and voted on by members of the Recording Academy - a very elite group of musicians. Hardly a meritocracy but, for many years, the GRAMMYs at least had some semblance of respect for artistry and built its credibility based on that.

By pretty much crowning Macklemore the best rapper of 2013, the GRAMMYs has shown itself to be more than out of touch. When it comes to Hip Hop, the Recording Academy has proven itself to be clueless and downright disrespectful. Now, to be clear: My problem with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis sweeping the GRAMMY Awards' rap categories this year isn't that they're white. Sorry but it's more nuanced than that. It's that Macklemore isn't a very talented rapper (certainly not better than the aforementioned emcees) but is being elevated within the genre, I suspect, solely because he's white. 

Listen: Black people are used to being copied. We're practiced at creating American pop culture. We made up Blues, Ragtime, Jazz, Gospel, Rock, R&B and Hip Hop for everyone. We're cool like that. Everyone is welcome, but the first rule of cultural exchange or, hell, tourism is have some fucking respect. Don't go claiming you invented twerking. Don't call Rihanna's doobie a "faux pixie" because you don't feel like a asking a black person what it is. And don't give someone that can barely rap an award for having the best rap album of the year. 

In summary: NaS has zero GRAMMYs, Macklemore has four and I don't know if I'm more disappointed in myself for caring or white institutions for once again failing to be decent.

Update: It turns out the GRAMMY Awards' Rap committee actually tried to block Macklemore's nominations in the category. It was the general committee that made the decision to include them in a "landslide" vote. That is who left the gate open. Read more via the Associated Press.