Yet, Another Snub

As everyone knows, the Grammys were on last night and once again, many deserving artists got snubbed of their award. Especially noteworthy is The Weeknd, who received 0 Grammy nominations for the year that he released his best music in, as well as one of his most successful singles, Blinding Lights, which broke records for being the longest-charting song. He lost to Justin Bieber and his song, Yummy.

This isn’t the first time that a respectable artist has been snubbed of their award, the Grammys have a history of rigging the awards to benefit white artists. Rembert Browne, a writer for Vulture, argued that for a black artist to secure upper echelon honors, they have to make an album of the decade. This holds true because only three black women have received an award for album of the year out of the 61 times that it has been up for grabs. Music awards have a severe, systemic problem with rewarding achievement for people of color.

In 2017, Adele beat Beyonce for the album of the year. At the time Beyonce had released Lemonade, a truly iconic and one-of-a-kind album that should’ve won an award. The creativity and the raw emotion that was expressed throughout her album was a masterpiece. Even Adele acknowledged that Beyonce should’ve won by saying, “I can't possibly accept this award. The artist of my life is Beyoncé. And this album for me, the 'Lemonade' album, was just so monumental. So well-thought-out and so beautiful and soul-bearing and we all got to see another side to you that you don't always let us see, and we appreciate that. And all us artists here, we f---ing adore you. You are our light."

In 2014, Kendrick Lamar was robbed of a Grammy for his intricately constructed album, Good Kid, M.A.A.D City which lost to Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories. He also lost “best new artist” to Macklemore which warranted Macklemore publicly apologizing to Kendrick Lamar. This goes to show the bias that music awards have. Kendrick’s album was heavy with social commentary about current issues and autobiographical realizations, while Daft Punk’s album was light-hearted with a summer, beach vibe. Kendrick Lamar also lost again in 2016 to Taylor Swift for album of the year. His album, To Pimp a Butterfly earned 11 nominations, which is the most for any rapper, but he walked away with nothing. To Pimp a Butterfly has been critiqued as a monolithic work in the hip-hop community. His album talks about the consciousness of black Americans throughout the years, filled again with social and political commentary, all while appealing to the younger generation. 

Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange was snubbed of the award “album of the year” by Mumford & Sons in 2013. Frank Ocean’s album release made headlines as he explored his intersectional identity of being a queer, black man in a heteronormative society. In an interview, Ocean goes on to say, “...just doesn’t seem to be representing very well for people who come from where I come from and hold down what I hold down.” This led to Ocean not submitting his groundbreaking album Blonde up for award consideration.

The evidence of bias is very clear when you look at who has won Grammys over the years. White artists have consistently robbed artists of color of awards for albums that are nowhere near as memorable as the albums created by artists of color. Kendrick Lamar, Beyonce, SZA, Frank Ocean, and Kanye West have been making record charting music, but still, they lose to less notable artists. Music awards shows make their biases transparent by picking and choosing who THEY want, not who actually deserves it.