Words by: Ernest Baker
Everyone’s all mad about Macklemore winning a bunch of rap Grammys, but they shouldn’t be. Sure, other artists deserved it more, but we know that the Grammys have a strong history of inaccuracy when it comes to hip-hop. The awards also have little cultural significance in determining what matters within the parameters of the genre itself. If you’re really up in arms, we get it, but relax and realize that, for at least a few reasons, life will still be okay.
1. Not Even Macklemore Thinks He Should’ve Won
Last night, Macklemore posted this screenshot of his text to Kendrick Lamar after the Grammys:
This morning, he called Hot 97 to further discuss the robbery. He acknowledged that the Grammy voters are “people are filling out bubbles of genres that they don’t know about” and, in turn, he and Ryan Lewis “have an unfair advantage due to race.” While Macklemore parading around his white guilt is awkward and potentially unnecessary, one has to at least appreciate that the conversation about how The Heist didn’t deserve Best Rap Album has gone this public.
2. The Grammys Never Get It Right Anyway
This extremely popular tweet from last night sums it up best:
Grammy wins: Macklemore: 4 Tupac: 0 Notorious BIG: 0 Led Zeppelin: 0 Jimi Hendrix: 0 Bob Marley: 0 Snoop Dogg: 0 Beach Boys: 0 The Who: 0
— Wu-Tang Financial (@Wu_Tang_Finance) January 27, 2014
Nas has never won a Grammy, either. Even though these awards shows consistently disappoint us, it makes sense why we sometimes place a lot of stake in them. In a way, these ceremonies document culture and it’s disheartening when they, as Kanye West puts it, “re-write history in front of us.” Yeezus was the best reviewed album of the year and didn’t even get nominated for Album of the Year. The system is clearly political, but really, the influence of a piece of art is what lasts, not the awards it was given. Even outside of music, Dances With Wolves beat Goodfellas for Best Picture at the Oscars in 1991, but over 20 years later, no one’s debating that it’s the better film. The people hold a power that committees and academies don’t.
3. Macklemore Didn’t Win Album of the Year or Song of the Year
While some may find it tragic that Macklemore swept the rap categories, who cares about the rap Grammys? The Grammys don’t—they don’t even televise rap awards. Despite what your timeline looks like today, hip-hop doesn’t care that much either, as the Grammys still mean little within the parameters of what the culture values, and it’s always been that way. When DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince won the first ever rap Grammy for “Parents Just Don’t Understand” in 1989, Will Smith led a boycott of the ceremony and wasn’t even there to accept it. Jay Z famously boycotted the show a decade later when DMX wasn’t nominated. If Macklemore became the first rapper to win Song of the Year or one of the very few to win Album of the Year, it would’ve falsely expedited his status as some sort of progressive trailblazer, and that may have been deserving of prolonged outraged, but it didn’t happen. He still only won awards in categories that the Grammys barely cares about, and that minimizes some of the impact.
Yes, it’s unfortunate that Macklemore is the new face of hip-hop to an impressionable swath of the population, but four gold gramophones doesn’t mean that rap’s entire credibility has been called into question. Anyone with a bit of common sense and an eye for historical trends, could’ve predicted last night’s outcome. It’s unfair, and it’d be great to see the Grammys’ hip-hop situation improve at some point, but for now, the world keeps turning. Those who have valid opinions about the genre are making themselves heard, so it’s no secret that the committee got it wrong. What else is new? If the same thing happens next year, don’t be surprised.