Well, we said it was time for fans to roast "music's biggest night" again, and the 2024 Grammys certainly did not disappoint in this regard. People are still fuming over Taylor Swift winning Album of the Year over the likes of SZA, boygenius, Olivia Rodrigo, and Janelle Monáe. Some stars like Doja Cat left with no trophies in their arms at all. However, this awards ceremony also brought us some great moments: a couple of wins for the SOS creative, a wonderful Stevie Wonder performance, and a rendition of "Sittin' On Top Of The World" by Burna Boy, Brandy, and 21 Savage. As far as the Recording Academy goes, we can't really complain too much out of shock this year.
Still, for the genres of hip-hop and R&B, this was a very interesting, often chaotic, and honestly conflictive time. Whether it was the awards, reactions to them, or extracurricular antics and show elements, it was a bizarre year of representation. Yet these genres hold onto their commercial stardom. Regardless of what the Grammys got right and wrong, this made us think of some key questions that always come up around this time of year, but that should be present more often. When have awards, especially the Recording Academy's, ever nailed their takes in the public's eyes, why does this history exist, and does the outcome even matter for artists?
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Grammys In Hip-Hop & R&B: Surprises, Surefires & Success
Call us corny all you want for caring about what talking heads behind an industry office boardroom think about music. We can't deny that they rope us into the ceremony every year because of our fandom. With our previous predictions for these categories in mind, the results were mixed within hip-hop and R&B, but with no egregious outcomes in our eyes. As far as what we missed the mark on, the Grammys gave Best Traditional R&B Performance to PJ Morton and Susan Carol for "Good Morning." We're happy they got the award, as they had the best chemistry out of the batch. We're also glad SZA's "Snooze" won Best R&B Song despite our prediction, plus Best Progressive R&B Album for SOS as we expected.
But kudos to Victoria Monét, who we predicted would win in the Best R&B Song category, for winning Best New Artist and Best R&B Album for JAGUAR II -- as expected and deserved! Elsewhere, Coco Jones' "ICU" won Best R&B Performance. While we thought SZA's "Kill Bill" would win in this category, we're happy that they picked Coco, who had the best performance in our eyes. As expected, Lil Durk and J. Cole's "All My Life" beat out Burna Boy and 21 Savage's "Sittin' On Top Of The World" for Best Melodic Rap Performance. Shout out to Durk and Cole for getting the award, though, as it's just as much a strong contender as almost all of the picks in these categories.
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Killer Mike's Hip-Hop Blowout & Immediate Brush With Bigotry
Similarly, all the rap categories at the Grammys this year had mostly great picks that we would've championed. We expected Killer Mike's "SCIENTISTS & ENGINEERS" to deservedly take the Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song categories. Rather than a legacy pick with Nas' King's Disease III, voters chose the Atlanta legend's MICHAEL as the Best Rap Album for 2024. It's 2023's middle point between hip-hop purism and contemporary appeal. While it's obvious in hindsight, we're happy to have been wrong here. Folks are talking a lot about the other 2023 pick, Travis Scott's UTOPIA, getting "robbed" of the award... but we'll get to that soon. Unfortunately for Mike, the Recording Academy's praise of his artistry was almost immediately followed with a small, since-resolved, but disgusting reminder of the biases artists of his skin color and culture face.
Authorities arrested Killer Mike for a misdemeanor right at the Crypto.com arena in Los Angeles after an alleged altercation with a security guard. Sure, folks should be held accountable for their actions, but the secretive and overtly punitive way in which they treated him is a worrisome reminder that Black creatives -- and people, for that matter -- will always have a narrative against them. Some people immediately clowned and mocked this incident from racist or uncaring points of view. This wasn't the Grammys' fault at all, but because of the timing and how security officials handled it, the perception of his success is tainted. For hip-hop fans, it isn't. Thus, this doesn't matter in the grand scheme. Nevertheless, rap's unjust representation at the most mainstream level poses cataclysmic effects for its treatment moving forward. One current juggernaut represented this in a surprising way.
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Travis Scott: The Perils Of Playing Both Parts
Travis Scott performed UTOPIA's "MY EYES," "I KNOW ?," and "FE!N" at the Grammys this year. He brought out Playboi Carti and called the Recording Academy out for snubbing him, causing a lot of ruckus. To be honest, we had our issues with this 2023 album, but its impact and accurate representation of rap right now warrant praise. It was just a very competitive year. But as always, "snubs" like these cause folks to question whether these awards matter. The answer's been a resounding "no" for decades, ever since Will Smith and DJ Jazzy Jeff boycotted the 1989 Grammy Awards, the first to acknowledge hip-hop as a genre. That year, the Grammys decided against televising the hip-hop awards... another problem we'll get to later.
What is strangest about Travis Scott at the Grammys is the framing. They let him perform with no other recognition, knowing the backlash from snubbing ASTROWORLD back during the 2019 ceremony. In addition, Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. gave a speech right after his performance that seemed oddly hypocritical. He lamented the loss of life at music festivals, and while the example he proposed resulted in over 300 deaths, it was bizarre to see this after the host of the Astroworld Festival performed. It seemed a lazy way to avoid criticism while revealing their true choice: platforming La Flame. We don't think the festival's fully his responsibility; we believe the Recording Academy made it impossible for folks not to discredit him for one reason or another and still profit off his appearance.
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Jay-Z Aims At The Academy For Their Apathy
Along that same vein, Jay-Z's acceptance speech for the Global Impact Award contained curious inconsistencies. He blasted the Grammys for never giving Album of the Year to his wife Beyoncé, the most awarded person in their history. Also, Hov said some of the nominees that night didn't deserve it, and that these awards are subjective. But he emphasized that hip-hop wants them to get it right because it matters for folks to see that they can find massive reach and keep artistry intact. The 54-year-old even referenced Will and Jazzy Jeff's boycott of the ceremony and his own boycott when DMX didn't receive a nomination. Even though it's wild to say, similar to 1989, no rap categories showed up during the CBS broadcast of the main event in 2024, either.
As such, 2024's Grammys left us with a lot to think about. What does it mean when the industry's most successful rapper calls them out and puts others down while doing so? Why put one of the world's biggest rappers today on your stage just to sideline him in every other way, warranted or not? When SZA loses in the general categories, can R&B ever dominate critically as it has culturally for decades? We like all the picks and congratulate the nominees, but now we're in a comedown. The hype cycle passed, and we left with a sinking feeling in our stomachs. With more pushback against the Recording Academy from these genres than ever on their stage, maybe rap and R&B should eschew validation from this organization, one uninterested in providing an equitable spot for it at the table.
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The post Did The 2024 Grammys Get It Right? appeared first on HotNewHipHop.