Every year at the Grammys there are musicians that win awards that they wouldn’t win based on quality of music alone (relative to their peers). Yet, due to popularity, radio play, and a variety of other factors, a lot of musicians on major record labels take home the hardware, while lesser known — and in some instances — better musicians remain unknown and under-appreciated.
For the most part, Grammy winners feel entitled to their awards, and for good reason. They work hard at something they’ve dreamt of doing their entire lives, and the Grammys are a chance to realize how far they’ve come.
Take Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, who won Grammys for Best New Artist and Best Rap Album. While giving their acceptance speech for Best New Artist, Macklemore thanked the fans, explaining how they were the reason the duo were able to reach this point in their careers.
After accepting the award for Best Rap Album (in which the group beat out Kendrick Lamar’s “Good Kid m.A.A.d. City”, Kanye West’s “Yeezus”, Drake’s “Nothing Was the Same”, and Jay Z’s “Magna Carta Holy Grail”), Macklemore posted on Instragram a text message he sent to Kendrick Lamar.
Along with the picture, Macklemore posted the following caption:
My text to Kendrick after the show. He deserved best rap album… I’m honored and completely blown away to win anything much less 4 Grammys. But in that category, he should have won IMO. And that’s taking nothing away from The Heist. Just giving GKMC its proper respect.. With that being said, thank you to the fans. You’re the reason we were on that stage tonight. And to play Same Love on that platform was a career highlight. The greatest honor of all. That’s what this is about. Progress and art. Thank you. #grammys”
It’s rare to see a Grammy award winner, likely on the biggest night of his / her career, point out the flaws in the very voting system that he / she benefited from.
But he’s right. There’s no reason “The Heist” should have beaten out “good kid, m.A.A.d city” or “Yeezus”. Those two albums are two of the greatest hip hop albums of the past five years. While “The Heist” is solid and has some catchy songs, it’s just nowhere near the level of those other two.
Then again, that’s what we’ve come to expect from the Grammys. It is an awards show that occasionally gets it right (read: Vampire Weekend wins best alternative album or Arcade Fire winning best album in 2011), but most often leaves hardcore music fans wanting more.
It’s easy to give out Grammys to artists like Macklemore. The feel-good story, radio-friendly duo with poppy rap songs that most of America can relate to is a lot safer than the kid with a little edge to him who grew up in Compton. I’m not saying that’s why Macklemore and Ryan Lewis won their awards. I’m just saying that the Grammy voters don’t go out of their way to pass out awards for the Kendrick Lamar’s of the world.
That’s just how it is. I’ve accepted this fact a long time ago.
That’s why Macklemore’s show of respect to Kendrick Lamar was so refreshing. He didn’t have to say anything. You could even argue that it’s a bit of a humble brag (winning a Grammy PLUS having Kendrick Lamar in your personal contact list). But he didn’t have to do it, and he did. I can respect that any day.
It’s not that Macklemore and Ryan Lewis didn’t deserve to win the awards they won. They made a good album that was incredibly well-received by the masses. But based solely on the quality of the music — the art — created, Kendrick Lamar deserved to win more.