January 27, 2014
So yesterday I wrote a blog about my disappointment with Ryan Lewis and Macklemore winning 3 out the 4 Grammy’s in the Rap Category. I know I wrote it in the heat of the moment and my emotions as a “fan” took over. My blog, has been shared and reshared and I have had healthy discussions today on twitter, facebook and live on Big Tigger’s radio show on V-103 in Atlanta, GA. Also, I see that there has been good dialogue between Kendrick and Macklemore, that’s positive. But I really am still concerned with the process of how the best rap category winners get chosen and “who” chooses them (and why more musicians, writers and producers don’t vote and why the ones who do vote are often times super conservative/older when it comes to this genre). My opinion is still pretty much the same as yesterday, but as a former music executive of over 20 plus years in the entertainment business, I felt that it was my duty to provide more info on the process of Grammy voting. I reviewed the process with my dear friend and industry vet, Dee Dee Murray as well as Erin Baxter at the Recording Academy, Atlanta Chapter.
For those of you that may not know, the Grammy awards are governed and voted on by members of NARAS (National Recording Academy of Arts & Sciences). The Academy does a great deal to protect and promote the rights of musicians and to support the arts in schools. I actually sit on one of the R&B (and I guess Hip-Hop) membership committees. I am an associate member, associate members cannot vote but they can submit product to be considered. Then you have “voting” members that can submit product and Vote. To be an eligible “voting” member, you must have 6 commercially released tracks (as an artist, writer, producer, etc) or 12 if released digitally in the last 5 years. You can find more details on becoming a voting member on the official Grammy website, www.grammy365.com. Basically folks, if we want to have different results, we have to keep fighting the smart way. I encourage more hip-hop purists and members of the community to join NARAS if you are eligible and VOTE. Then if we increase our voices by numbers, we may eventually get the results that we want. Just as we have issues with our nation and our cities, if we wanna to bring about change, we have to exercise our right to vote (something we have learned as African-Americans many years ago). And you may ask why do I even mention race? Well hip-hop is a genre/subculture that was birthed from the black and latino youth in the 70s. Some people are very protective of the culture and it’s authenticity. So if we feel strong enough about it, then we need to fight to keep the music pure. And although hip-hop has transcended black culture and become big mainstream business (and although happy for the growth), we must still encourage and promote the music we feel is most credible.
One final note from a music industry standpoint…sometimes other artists do a better job of marketing themselves to the Academy members, although I don’t think you can officially campaign to the voters. You can however work to raise your profile to mainstream America through key press articles and awareness. At the end of the day, there is a responsibility that falls on the creative community AND on the Academy. I still say that the Rap category needs to be better represented with more authentic winners (this isn’t the first time hip-hop purists have had a problem with winners in this genre). I mean yes Ryan Lewis and Macklemore are talented and had a great year in music. However, I could have possibly been happier for them if at LEAST “Best Rap Album” would have gone to Kendrick or Jay Z; they both produced amazing bodies of work as a hole. Ryan Lewis and Macklemore’s album had 2 major mainstream hits but lacked depth. What about creating a new category in rap… Traditional Rap Album or Pop Rap Album and/or Song? There are real emcees and then there are those that simply do their best to ride those beats…and everyone is NOT in the same category. And although Kendrick, Drake, Asap Rocky and other worthy artists, didn’t take home a gold sippy cup (compliments of Jay) it’s OK. I am sure Ryan Lewis and Macklemore know where THEY fall within hip-hop royalty :-/
I don’t have all of the answers but I am very passionate about that thing they call Hip-Hop 🙂
The Hip-Hop Professional
P.S. CONGRATS to Skateboard P…Pharrell on an impressive night, well deserved! Shout out Uncle Charlie and Pharrell’s hat off to all of the other winners at the 2014 Grammy Awards!