Artists who are minorities, aside from industry moguls such as Beyonce, Jay-Z, and Michael Jackson, have been snubbed for years by the Recording Academy in favor of traditional, well-established artists who may not be as popular. However, the 2018 Grammy’s have sought to change that with the show’s most prestigious award, Album of the Year, not having any albums by white men nominated for it. Instead, Jay-Z, Lorde, Kendrick Lamar, Childish Gambino, and Bruno Mars will compete for the prize of the night.
Streaming has propelled rap and, now latin songs, to the top of the charts (see Migos’ "Bad and Boujee", Cardi B’s "Bodak Yellow", and Luis Fonsi’s "Despacito") and has pushed these new, fresh-faced artists to the forefront of popular culture. Lil’ Uzi Vert, SZA, Khalid, and Logic collected nominations and new girls on the block Aleissa Cara and Julia Michaels found themselves getting Grammy nominations as well. The Grammy’s heard the backlash and has, for now, listened.
The Grammy’s have had controversies in recent years when it came to the winners of their top categories. Twice, Beyonce’s albums have lost out to the work of white artists that is considerably more mediocre. In 2015, her self-titled album with a Metacritic score of 85 lost to Beck’s "Morning Phase" which had a Metacritic score of 81. In 2017, her groundbreaking and culturally significant album "Lemonade", which a Metacritic score of 92, lost to Adele’s considerably safer record 25, which had a Metacritic rating of only 75.
The 2016 Grammy Awards had some people scratching their heads when Taylor Swift won album of the year for "1989" over Kendrick Lamar’s "To Pimp a Butterfly" with Swift’s record having a metacritic rating of 76 compared to Lamar’s outstanding score of 96. Lamar’s album tackled important themes such as racial inequality, depression, African American culture, and institutional discrimination and was even hailed as “The Great American Hip-Hop Album” by some critics. However, it could be argued the Swift winning her second Album of the Year Grammy was still significant since she was the first woman to win in the category twice as a main artist.
This year, however, Kendrick Lamar is back with seven nominations with nominations for his album "DAMN" in the Album of the Year category and his song "HUMBLE" in the Record of the Year category. Most noticeably omitted from the latter category was Taylor Swift’s single "Look What You Made Me Do" and rightfully so. Other songs in the category (see "The Story of O.J. and Redbone) are much better written and sound like they have their finger on the pulse of this year’s music trends.
However, simply nominating an array of female artists and artists of color aren’t enough to turn the tide of the show’s waning relevance. In order to prove that the academy isn’t as woefully behind the trends as in years past, these artists need to take the prizes home. After all, it’s about time that Kendrick Lamar wins an Album of the Year grammy. He’s waited too long for this.