The Recording Academy’s Failure to Understand Music Trends

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The Recording Academy’s Failure to Understand Music Trends

Marvin Villanueva, Senior

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The Grammy Awards, presented by the Recording Academy, claims every year “[to award] and recognize achievements in the music industry.” Although each year, the Grammys never cease, to ward off any controversy over their presentation and their creative decisions, revealing themselves to be a thing of the past and as proven time and time again, the Grammy Awards show their inability to grasp the state of the music industry through their blatant disregards towards hip-hop, cultural shifts, and artists at their absolute best.

To begin, the Recording Academy’s relationship with hip-hop is rocky, to say the least. In 1989, after barely recognizing hip-hop through the introduction of the Best Rap Performance award, the Grammys announced that the category wouldn’t be televised. Outraged, three out of five of the nominees boycotted the event with eventual winner, The Fresh Prince, stating: “We’re ecstatic they made a rap category… but we think we deserve better than that.”

Every year since, the Grammys have televised the award, but still have not given the hip-hop community what they deserve.

Through the golden age of hip-hop, acts like A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, and Dr. Dre were cast aside for more radio-friendly, non-political artists like MC Hammer and Arrested Development. As the years went by, this same sediment lingered, with hip-hop never winning the night’s biggest awards, Record of the Year and Song of the Year, and winning Album of the Year only twice with Lauryn Hill’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill and Outkast’s Speakerboxx/The Love Below.

This flagrant dismissal of hip-hop only cements the Recording Academy’s failure to understand cultural shifts and the current shape of modern pop culture.

But the Grammys’ worst aspect is their long, seemingly strong-held tradition of awarding an artist to repent for a past loss.

It’s a vicious cycle. For example, they failed to award Steely Dan for their best work in the 70s, and when the band came out with the driest work of their career, 2000’s Two Against Nature, they seized their opportunity and decided to award them at the wrong time. Praising them over individual magnum opuses like Radiohead’s Kid A, Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP and Beck’s Midnite Vultures and when Beck came out with his driest album, 2015’s Morning Phase, they again seized another opportunity to mend past wrongs, awarding him over Beyoncé’s self-titled hit. In ten years, when Beyoncé releases the worst work of her career, the Grammys will finally feel the need to award her Album of the Year.

Ultimately, the Grammys should be realizing their faults. Numerous rappers did not want to perform this year and the first hip-hop winner for Song of the Year, Childish Gambino, did not even attend the ceremony, further proving the irrelevance The Grammys hold on the music industry.

It is really too late for the Recording Academy to mend any wrongs.

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