Luke Walsh ’19
I will explain how, for once, the Grammys have done something good; but first let me explain why they have not mattered for so long, especially in regards to hip-hop. The Grammys do not matter whatsoever when it comes to the music landscape regarding artistic integrity, legacy and overall importance to the history of music. For example, Macklemore, after his successes with the Grammy Award-winning The Heist has received lackluster reviews from both critics and fans regarding his next two commercial albums and may never return to form, has more Grammy wins (1) than Wu-Tang, A Tribe Called Quest, Biggie, 2pac, Nas and so many others. Grammys truly do not matter in the grand scheme of things. Take Macklemore’s win in 2014, which beat out Kendrick Lamar’s Good Kid, M.A.A.D City. Now while it is understandable to be upset that Kendrick Lamar was not recognized that year, it should not be underestimated how much larger an impact Kendrick made on both the culture of hip-hop and America in general than Macklemore. G.K.M.C. will influence, be remembered and most importantly be listened to by far more people in the generations to come than Macklemore’s The Heist, and that is far more important than any award.
With all of that said, the 2019 Grammys did something that no other Grammys have done previously; it displayed the cultural influence that hip-hop has brought to the world by awarding Childish Gambino’s “This is America” both Record of the Year and Song of the Year, which has not been previously accomplished by a hip-hop artist. It is not just any hip-hop song to do it, as “This is America,” along with its fascinating music video, intrinsically critiques gun culture, racism and inequality in the United States. It is a powerful song that demonstrates the unfair treatment of the black community in regards to gun laws. Its ability to combine these politically charged lyrics with some infectious production and a simplistic chorus has allowed its message to spread across the nation in a way that few other songs have. While there have been countless songs from hip-hop that could have won Record of the Year in the past, there are very few songs I could think of that deserve the honor of being the first hip-hop Record of the Year.
Well done, Grammys. It took far too long, but for once, they recognized the positivity that hip-hop has brought to this country and finally allowed a black voice to be heard by the masses. They still don’t really matter, but well done, I guess.