The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences doesn’t particularly care for rap music. They prefer country, jazz, rock and anything involving Will Smith, as a rule. When they do begrudgingly acknowledge hip-hop, it’s in a half-assed manner and usually isn’t even televised. It took until 1989 before the first Grammy for Best Rap Performance was awarded, then they split it into Best Rap Solo Performance and Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group two years later before merging them again in 2012. In 2003 they then split the solo award into male and female categories, before reversing the decision in 2005. Why? Because the Grammys don’t give a single fuck about rap music and want to play with your emotions.
When the Grammys are forced to deal with the dreaded rap music, they ensure that the fluffiest, most “fun” records of the year are victorious. Thus Young MC claimed the trophy in 1990 for ‘Bust A Move’ instead of Public Enemy’s ‘Fight The Power’. And Sir Mix-A-Lot’s ‘Baby Got Back’ beat the brave social protest of MC Hammer’s ‘Addam’s Groove’ and Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch’s ‘You Gotta Believe’ in 1993… wait, what? In light of this, the outrage that the Rap Internets has vocalised in the wake of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis edging out golden child Kendrick Lamar is puzzling to say the least. This is the same award show that nominated an effin’ Lloyd Banks song for Best Rap Solo in 2005!
The Grammys also like to troll certain rappers – Snoop Dogg has been nominated 16 times without a win, which ties him with R&B crooner Brian McKnight for the dubious all-time record, while Nas has had his hopes dashed 13 times, while Busta Rhymes has endured 11 such disappointments. The difference is, all three of them realise that the whole thing is just a giant record industry circlejerk and don’t take it personally. OK, maybe Nas does just a little. The fact that 50 Cent didn’t receive a golden gramophone until 2010, and only for a guest spot on an Eminem song after 12 previous nominations, speaks volumes when you consider that he was the most popular rapper on the planet for several years.
So how does Macklemore deal with the situation? He sends a corny, apology text message, dripping with faux-remorse, to K-Dot and then screencaps it for the world to see, which basically proves how much of a giant phony this guy has become. If he was really that sorry about winning he could actually made a stand like Sinead O’Connor did in 1991 when she boycotted the ceremony and refused her award for Best Alternative Musical Performance. Although if he’d done that then he wouldn’t have been able to hold that same-sex wedding ceremony presided over by Queen Latifah, who I guess is now a qualified civil celebrant? Do you think MC Hammer was sending messages to Big Daddy Kane’s beeper in 1991 when ‘U Can’t Touch This’ beat ‘I Get The Job Done’?
This is the same organization that awarded the first Best Rap Album gong to Naughty By Nature’s Poverty’s Paradise over 2Pac’s Me Against The World and Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s Return To The 36 Chambers, and you’re shocked that good kid, m.A.A.d city was snubbed? Willie Dee summed it pretty well on 1991’s ‘Trophy’:
“One sucka gets nominated five or six damn times / It ain’t that he’s better than the rest; it’s just a damn popularity contest / Or a bribe or a favour – motherfuckers make a speech and they think that they major!”
Although Kanye and Jay Z have managed to sneak in 21 and 19 awards respectively, they aren’t seeing Chicago Symphony Orchestra conductor Sir Georg Solti, who’s claimed 31 wins from 74 nominations, or bluegrass singer Alison Krauss with her 27, and you can bet your right arm that those figures won’t be changing anytime soon. I’d like to think that Vanilla Ice is sitting on a jetski right now, high as hell on bath salts, proud as punch that a white guy not named Eminem has finally righted the wrongs of ‘Ice, Ice, Baby’ losing to Hammer way back when. Who ever said I couldn’t find the silver lining in this situations?