The GRAMMYs are broken

Ebony Purks, Contributing Writer

The 2020 GRAMMYs aired Jan. 26 to audiences across America, but not without a little controversy first. According to Deborah Dugan, former Chief Executive of the Recording Academy, the GRAMMYs are notorious for voting irregularities behind closed doors. These accusations, coupled with past voting inconsistencies noted by the public, have sparked an ongoing conversation about the validity of the GRAMMYs, whose purpose is supposed to uplift and recognize great talent and achievement in music. However, according to Dugan, the GRAMMYs have apparently always been about politics rather than the music.

At this year’s award ceremony, Tyler the Creator’s album “IGOR” won Best Rap Album but was met with “bittersweet” feelings from Tyler. During a press interview, Tyler stated, “half of me feels like the rap nomination was a back-handed compliment.” He also expressed how black artists are often confined to rap or urban categories, even going as far as stating “urban” is a “politically correct way to say the n-word,” regardless if their music is “genre-bending.”

If the GRAMMYs have been political then it is disappointing but comes as no surprise. They assert their so-called authority of what music is and isn’t over black artists by limiting them to exclusively urban categories.

Tyler’s win was well deserved, but he’s right — the GRAMMYs have historically oppressed black artists because GRAMMY voters typically are not and have never been true lovers and connoisseurs of music.

While receiving his award of Best Rap Song for “God’s Plan” at the 2019 GRAMMYs, Drake stated in his acceptance speech how these “acclaimed” awards don’t define musical greatness and an artist doesn’t need a GRAMMY to validate their art. In recent years, even artists seem to be noticing inconsistencies in the award-giving process, some of them going out of their way to state how an award that used to mean so much to them, doesn’t have the same appeal as once before.

The music industry is run by the same system across different platforms that continues to deny black artists the same luxury as white artists: the ability to stretch genres. As time goes on, and social media continues to be a strong platform of conversation and advocacy, systems like GRAMMYs may begin to lose the power they hold over artists, specifically black artists.