Published on December 26th, 2012 | by Boman12l0
Bo & Arrow: Grammy Time
Yo what’s good folks, welcome to another edition of Bo & Arrow. Most of you should know by now, that the 55th Grammy nominations have been announced once again causing the standard head shaking and general feelings of confusion that come with them. No we will not be discussing whether Justin Bieber or Nicki got snubbed; we are here to talk hip-hop.
First thing, shout out to the big homies The Black Keys. The Keys, more specifically Dan Auerbach, are nominated in six categories, among them Album of the Year, Producer of the Year Non-classical and Record of the Year for “Lonely Boy” (which is not even the best song on the album if you ask me. We all know about “Little Black Submarines”). Also notable is Odd Future’s Frank Ocean with six nominations (Album of the Year and Best Contemporary R&B Album). Now on to general business – the rap list.
To be honest with you, each year the Grammy nominations are announced, I have the same reaction – “what the hell are these people thinking?” It’s not just the vast difference of quality across the nominations that cause my head to spin, but the Grammys’ weird eligibility period. When most outlets do a “best of the year list,” the time frame is normally from the first week of January to around the second week of December. Originally, the Grammy awards reflected the previous year’s work. Meaning the Grammys for 1996 reflected albums released in 1995. Now the Grammys sit in this weird time frame, where the eligibility period is around October of the previous year to September of the current year. It makes for a strange overlap and you get situations like Kanye’s 2010 My Dark Twisted Beautiful Fantasy competing with his 2011 album with Jay-Z, Watch The Throne.
The rap categories have always perplexed me. Since their introduction in 1996, I have raised my hands to the sky wondering how some of these albums are selected as among the best in the genre for mainstream America to ogle at. With awards of this caliber, there are always going to be talk of ”snubs” and “what should have won,” but the nominations in other genres (to me) do not appear as mind boggling as the nominations in the rap categories.
There are a few possible reasons why the nominations are so baffling. It could be the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, still does not quite understand the rap genre. After sixteen years, you think they would have had it figured out by now. (It is telling that they still call it the “Rap” category while most scholars view rap as the vocal technique and recognize Hip-hop as the genre where rap artists perform, but this could all be semantics.) Another possibility, albums are nominated to cover the widest base. There are always the nominations that are critically loved, and others that were commercially successful, but fail to move the genre forward in any meaningful way. It should also be mentioned, if you have been nominated before, your chances are higher for subsequent nominations. The truth is – it boils down to a popularity contest; the bigger your awareness, the more votes you will grab for a nomination.
This brings us to this year. The nominations for Rap album of the year are: 2 Chainz – Based on a T.R.U. Story, Drake – Take Care, Lupe Fiasco – Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Pt. 1, Nas – Life Is Good, Rick Ross – God Forgives, I Don’t, The Roots – Undun. Looking at the list, we have two albums from last year (we covered this three paragraphs ago,) two albums that were generally mixed between critics, and two albums that were generally loved by Critics.
While this year’s nominations (as a whole) are not as bad as years past, the competitive nature and the general overall increases in albums of quality being available still make some of the choices baffling. I understand Drake’s nominations. Yes, it is fun to laugh and clown Drake, but to not recognize the amount of work that went into that album, you are fooling yourself. Nas and The Roots have both been nominated in the past, but frequently do not take home the statue. Lupe too has been nominated before and Food & Liquor 2 was a vast improvement over Lasers, but released in a year that saw excellent albums from Killer Mike among others, does Lupe still compare? However, it is the appearance of 2 Chainz and Rick Ross that puzzle me. With a name change and plenty of high profile features, 2 Chainz is experiencing a great revival and his album sold extremely well. But ask most hip-hop heads, it is far from best of the year material. Ross was everywhere this past year, but even the Boss’ diehard fans will tell you that God Forgives, I Don’t is no Teflon Don.
Truth is, the Grammys are not for music heads in general. Yes it is exciting to see your favorite artist be recognized in front of mainstream America and a body of their peers, but more times than not the Grammys cause more frustrations than excitement. The ceremony is not all that bad. There are plenty of special and beautiful moments that happen. Above all else, it is a celebration of music. Plus, plenty of artists do benefit from the mainstream exposer. While the nominations may not be perfect, few things seldom are. Your favorite websites and media outlets will have plenty of “Best of” and “Year End” lists that will reflect your taste in music.