How an artist's worth is being overlooked
Grammy season has come and gone, and it has left me rather disappointed. I was not however, disappointed with Kendrick Lamar.
Where do I start with Kendrick Lamar? He’s been one of my top favourite artists for years now, and I’m not being bias when I write this article (maybe a little bit), but he is truly one of the greatest artists in this generation of music.
His lyrics are powerful; his performances are breath-taking and he stands up for the black community on a wide-reaching stage, with the whole world looking at him.
Kendrick opened the Grammy’s with a jaw dropping performance, I’ve since gone back and watched it almost several times a day.
Kendrick’s first song was ‘XXX. Feat U2,’ the very opening words were “America, god bless you if it’s good to you.” There’s a deeply significant meaning to this lyric. Coming from a black man, it is speaking to how America is a great place if you’re in the majority—anyone else that falls into the minority sector are going to constantly be struggling.
The men surrounding him on stage were dressed in military uniforms and marching with the American flag in the background, while Kendrick spat verses describing the corrupt issues within America, in accordance with the treatment of black people, “It’s murder on my street, your street, back street, wall street, corporate offices."
During the rest of Kendrick’s performance, he brought out Dave Chappelle who said, “the only thing more frightening than watching a black man be honest with America, is being an honest black man in America."
Chappelle then went on to say, “is this on cable? CBS? It’s looks like this man is singing and dancing, but this brother is taking enormous chances, rumble young man, rumble.”
The powerful words that Chappelle spoke were nothing but the truth; the performance that Kendrick Lamar was displaying was not just for entertainment, but it was a statement, and for a black man in America to do that, that’s brave.
It may be 2018, but black people are still being faced with issues that they’ve been struggling with for centuries.
To finish off the performance, Kendrick had his dancers clothed in red hoodies being shot at, one by one. The dancers were meant to symbolize not only young black boys being shot such as Trayvon Martin, but also to address the inordinate level of black people being unjustly shot and killed in America.
The entire performance that Kendrick put on was no doubt, politically driven. With this criterion in mind, along with his raw talent, it was by far the best performance of the night (next to Kesha’s), and one of the best performances to ever be done at the Grammys.
So, it comes back to the question of what the heck does Kendrick Lamar have to do to win Album of the Year?
Kendrick has been nominated three times for Album of the Year, 2014, ‘Good Kid, M.A.D.D City’, losing to Daft Punk, then in 2016, ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’ losing to Taylor Swift, and now in 2018 for ‘Damn’ losing to Bruno Mars. Three nominations and three loses.
Don’t get me wrong, Bruno Mars is a great guy, and it was the first time that no white male artist was nominated, and a first for the Grammy’s, but Mars’ music is safe.
It’s apolitical music, it’s entertaining sure, and full of energy, but it cannot be compared to Kendrick’s influential and important lyrics, and the art of his entire albums.
The Grammy’s is making it evident that they’re not willing for a hip-hop album to win which has been situated in the larger discussion of the value of black artists. Let’s not forget about Beyoncé losing to Adele last year.
Are the Grammy’s scared of giving album of the year to a black rapper? An individual that shatters the typical and safe confines of music? Alongside Kendrick Lamar, Childish Gambino, and Jay-Z were also nominated for album of the year but did not win, surprise, surprise.
Or is hip hop not worthy of being album of the year? The last time a hip-hop album won album of the year was in 2003, going to OutKast. Or are they too scared to give the crown to Kendrick Lamar for his politically driven music?
Whatever the reason is the Grammy’s are making it obvious they are not giving Kendrick Lamar album of the year anytime soon, and I’m pissed.