And The Grammy Goes To…Probably Not Rap or Hip Hop

With the looping distraction of Michael Bublé’s Christmas album now subsiding from my playlist until next holiday season, it’s time to turn up the volume on some of the nominees for the 54th Annual Grammy Awards coming up in February.

This year, The Recording Academy decided to slim down Grammy Awards by restructuring the categories, condensing the total number of recognized categories to 78 (down from 109).  Thankfully, the televised awards show we see centers on the live performances and the winners of the most popular categories, most notably the General Field categories: Record Of The Year, Album Of The Year, Song Of The Year and Best New Artist.  Not surprisingly, these categories were left alone during the reform to preserve their iconic status.

Although often nominated in one or more of the General Field categories, it surprises me that today’s rap and hip hop artists rarely win outside of their own category, especially when the televised awards show is largely aimed at the Gen Y audience and showcases this genre particularly. Remember Eminem killing it last year? I still have chills. In the last ten years, the only rap/hip hop artist to have won in one of these four categories was OutKast in 2003, taking home the Album Of The Year golden gramophone for their double album Speakerboxxx/The Love Below.

I realize the Grammy awards are not a popularity contest, nor are they a perfect system in recognizing talent or excellence in the industry. But if the General Field categories are so iconic and reflective of the year’s finest, why don’t we see more representation of winners from rap and hip hop – arguably one of our generation’s most identifiable music genres?  Are the Grammys beginning to become as anachronistic as its trophy?

Randall Roberts of the L.A. Times music blog, Pop & Hiss, seems to think so. Skeptical of some the nominated records this year in the Album Of The Year category in their capacity to be significant influencers or bold pioneers in their respective genre, he notices (as well as many others did) an album in particular was overlooked by Recording Academy members in the nomination process. “Missing from the list? Kanye West’s epic ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,’ the most critically acclaimed album of the year, a career-defining record. West also was partially responsible for the breakout success of Bon Iver (who has a surprising four nominations, three in top categories) due to his collaboration with the indie folk artist.”

Despite the snub of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, I think Kanye’s hit single “All of the Lights” is a strong contender for Song of the Year.  If there were a category for Most Collaborations, the song would certainly be a shoo-in. J. Cole and Nicki Minaj are both nominated in the category for Best New Artist, but I would probably put my money on Bon Iver to take the Grammy.

Watch the 54th Grammy Awards on February 12 at 8pm EST on CBS.

Do you think rap and hip hop artists are still yet to be taken seriously for GRAMMY wins outside of their category? What are your predictions? Let us know in the comments or on twitter @NextGreatGen @nirarae

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Ashlynn Arias

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