Ever since Beyonce’s sixth album, “Lemonade,” got snubbed of the coveted Album of the Year award at the 2017 Grammys, the award show has lost my respect and its credibility. 2016 was a groundbreaking year for music with albums from artists like Rihanna (“Anti”), Sia (“This Is Acting”), Drake (“Views”), Lady Gaga (“Joanne”) and Queen Bey.
Beyonce’s album “Lemonade” was a cultural moment. Without any promotion, Beyonce dropped her album and charted all 12 songs on the Billboard Hot 100. “Lemonade” was an emotional testimony to the pain Beyonce presumably felt after her mogul husband, Jay-Z, allegedly cheated on her. The album is an experiment with each song exploring different genre styles ranging from pop to country to hard-rock.
This was a pivotal moment in her career, seemingly being the first time Beyonce really let the world in on her personal life. She not only created a sonically diverse body of work but also pushed the boundaries with a visual album; a trend she also did in 2013 with “Beyonce.” She created an hour and five-minute long movie to visualize the album. The movie featured poetry from Warsan Shire, a Somali-British poet, as well as creative and diverse visuals. These visuals gave a platform which created exposure for talented black women and their art.
Besides the emotional pain brought to life, the album was a testament to the African American community because of the strong pro-black messaging. The album’s lead single “Formation” is a black female power anthem that sends a clear message to people: Beyonce is a proud black woman and she wants all young black women to feel the same.
Beyonce pushed her political activism with her Superbowl performance in 2016. In the performance, Beyonce gave a salute to the Black Panther Party which is a controversial movement created in 1966 which involved violence. Many older, white people found her performance “objectionable” and claimed that the Super Bowl is not about politics.
Regardless of the controversy behind, Beyonce’s “Lemonade” sparked conversations about racial inequality in America and police brutality against people of color. Beyonce showed the world that she was not afraid to talk about her pain or speak out against the injustice in the world. I even went to her Formation World Tour which was a blockbuster success. She sold over 2.2 million tickets and grossed over $250 million dollars.
The success of “Lemonade” was not only seen on her tour but also at the VMAs (hosted by MTV) where Beyonce became the most awarded artist in history. Looking back at the 2017 Grammys, Beyonce had the most nominations (nine) but walked home with two. Adele took home Album of The Year for “25;” another record-breaking album, selling over 3 million copies in its first week in the United States. The lead single, “Hello” became one of the most successful songs in history.
I think this is when the Grammys lost their credibility; by awarding Adele “Album of the Year” they honored traditional music and commercial success. Adele’s album was eclectic and raw, however, it was simply another Adele album. She did not do really anything different; just another collection of ballads.
Now do not get me wrong, “25” was iconic. I just believe that “Lemonade” has a message within the body of work. It tells a story about infidelity and racism in addition to it being a visual masterpiece; I mean come on, Beyonce made a freaking movie. A movie. She wanted to make something that was never done before and she did just that.
Some could argue the Grammys were racist by awarding Beyonce “Best Urban Contemporary Album” and snubbing her in the other categories. The category “Best Urban Contemporary Album” is known for nominating all the predominantly African American albums. Arguing over a Grammy award might be pointless, however, it is a testament that black women have to work ten times harder than everyone else.
There is still hope for the Grammys; this year they displayed immense growth by honoring more diverse artists. Cardi B, who is a nontraditional and controversial artist, won her first Grammy. I find that even with growth, the loss of “Lemonade” capitalized on the racial bias in America which forever tainted my perspective of the Grammy Award.