Goodnight, Grammy’s

Lets rewind to a happier time. 2001. When the Grammy’s had a firm comprehension of balance .That ever so illusive yet eagarly saught after balance between artistry and commercial appeal. Lets take a look at the nominees for Best Rap Performance By A Duo Or Group:”

  • “Alive,” Beastie Boys
  • “Oooh,” De La Soul Featuring Redman
  • “The Next Episode,” Dr. Dre Featuring Snoop Dogg
  • “Big Pimpin’,” Jay-Z Featuring UGK
  • “Forgot About Dre,” Dr. Dre featuring Eminem

The eventual (and albeit rightful) winner of that award was “Forgot About Dre”, but notice the balance in the nominations. There was the insanely commercial (“Big Pimpin”) mixed with the classic Hip Hop (“The Next Episode”) mixed with the raw underground (“Oooh”). Balance. Also, notice how the award that won embodied all three of those elements. I mean, a song which has the lyrics, “choke you to death with a Charleston Chew” won a Grammy. (DOPE)ness. Now lets flash forward to the “future” (essential that future is in quotations) and look at the 2010 nominations for Best Rap Performance By A Duo Or Group:

Beastie Boys & Nas – “Too Many Rappers”
Eminem, Dr. Dre & 50 Cent – “Crack A Bottle”
Fabolous & Jay-Z – “Money Goes, Honey Stay”
Kid Cudi, Kanye West & Common – “Make Her Say”
Kanye West & Young Jeezy – “Amazing”

Where’s the balance? Not only that..where’s the consistency? While I do think that Relapse is one of the best rap albums of the year, “Crack A Bottle” is a forced, contrived stunt for publicity that did not fit at all in the scheme of the album or as a song by itself. Where’s the representation of the underground feel (“History” by Mos Def feat./ Talib Kweli, anyone?), where’s the artistic commercialism (“Forever”?). What we have here is a clear indication of the process as to which the people at the Grammy committe use to pick their rap-related nominees:

Take out a sheet of the Top 100 Rap Songs on Billboard. Close eyes. Throw dart. See where it lands. Write name down. Repeat until you have five nominations.

Before I continue let me say that I completely understand that the unheard of album from (DOPE) MC no-name will never get a Grammy nomination without SOME sort of commercial push so I am not suggesting that the Grammy’s go through EVERY rap song of 2009 and pick but a little more aristic integrity would be nice. Other inexplicable atrocities of the 2010 Grammy’s include:

  • Flo’Rida’s R.O.O.T.S album being nomiated for Rap Album of the Year
  • “I’m On A Boat” by The Lonely Island & T-Pain being nominated for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration
  • Not televising the Best Rap Album yet closing the show with a rap performance.
  • Cutting off The Dream’s mic while playing the “get off the stage” music, yet keeping the mic on for everyone else.
  • Having only ONE true Hip Hop performance and allowing T-Pain and Jamie Foxx to perform that addictive coonery song.

However the decrept icing on the cake came at the end(both ends). The final performnace of the night had the potential to be one of the greatest hip hop moments ever. You have Drake. The rapper with the BIGGEST buzz in the history of Hip Hop. Lil Wayne. Arguably the most saught after hip hop artist of the last half decade in what could be his last televised performance before serving an 8 Month jail sentence.  Then you have Eminem. Arguably the greatest rapper to ever breathe on a mic and unarguably the highest selling ARTIST (note no genre specific) of the last decade. How could this go wrong?

CBS and the Grammy’s censor nearly half of the performance.

The problem was not that they censored nearly half of the performance but that it was inexplicable. They bleeped out this entire stream of lyrics from Lil Wayne’s verse on “Drop The World”:

“…get in where I fit in, no room for a nigga,
but soon for a nigga it be on motherfucker
’cause all this bullshit”

What’s worst is that following that they allow him to say the following line “made me strong motherfucker” and he himself censors “motherfucker” so you have to imagine he censored the other words. Then they went on to censor half of the “Forever” chorus when the ONLY curse word is “shit” which when they let it play out Drake does not say “shit”. And therein lies the major problem with this censorship and the Grammy’s as a whole. The Grammy’s do not think that Hip Hop artist are respectable artists. The rappers were censoring themselves throughout the performance yet CBS still found the need to silence half of what could have been the biggest performance of 2010. All the disrespcet of the night culminated in this conspicuous disregrad for the artistry of hip hop.

Here’s a LESS censored and INFINITELY more enjoyable version of the performance:

Why was this not aired to millions of people? This proves exactly what I have been saying. These men were professionals and besides the “nigga” slip by Lil Wayne in the “Drop The World” verse (which could’ve EASILY been censored out) these men censored themselves for the most part.

You can blame it on Kanye West being a loose cannon and frightening the Grammys’ new IT girl(who inexplicably won Album of the Year). You can even blame it on the fact that Hip Hop at its core is an art rooted in a rebellious spirit and an anti-mainstream approach (though these days you’d never know it). Or maybe you could blame it on the fact that you had Eminem and Lil Wayne, two men who have been arrested and have shown to disregard live TV(Read: The infamous double middle finger Eminem gave at the end of his 2001 Grammy performance).

But they are professionals. You’re working on a delay(there is no such thing as LIVE TV after Nipplegate). And on top of that..THEY REHEARSED IT IN FRONT OF YOU. By you I mean the Grammy committe. Therefore the only LOGICAL explanation is a complete disregard for the professionalism and artistry of Hip Hop.

Once the euphoria of seeing three of my favorite rappers of the last year perform together subsided all that was left was a indescribable feeling. I did not know if it was betrayal, disgust or even anger. But as I finish writing this entry I have finally discovered what that engrossing feeling was that pained me the last 8 hours.

Maturity.

I grew up on the mythical “Grammy’s”. The idea that the penniacle of musical artistry and accomplishments is that Gold old school record player. But it is clear to me that the Grammy’s ideas of musicianship and artistry are as antiquated as the technology they model the design of their “prestigious” award after.

Goodnight, Grammy’s. May you never awaken.

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