After Beyonce’s Loss, Grammys Respond to Critics
What the f – does [Beyonce] have to do to win album of the year?” Adele asked rhetorically in the press room after the 2017 Grammys, where she had just won the night’s biggest award for her 2015 release 25. “I voted for her,” she said, almost apologetically. After Beyoncé’s latest loss in the Grammys’ most prestigious category – she has gone 0-3 so far in her career – the answer is increasingly unclear. Since Beyoncé released her debut solo album in 2003, Taylor Swift and Adele (arguably, her only peers besides Rihanna) have both won album of the year – twice.
The voters of The Recording Academy appear to have a problem with hip-hop, a situation that has created a widening racial gap between critical consensus and Grammy winners in the big four categories: best new artist, record of the year, song of the year and album of the year. In the lattermost category, only two rap-related albums (The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill and OutKast’s Speakerboxxx/The Love Below) have won in the genre’s 40-year history. Since 2000, black artists have won album of the year just twice – OutKast in 2004 and Herbie Hancock for his Joni Mitchell tribute in 2008 – even though a black artist or group with black members have been nominated every year except two. In The Village Voice’s Pazz & Jop poll – a leading survey for music critics – the top albums in four of the last five years were made by black artists. (The exception, David Bowie’s Blackstar, beat Lemonade by the equivalent of about 10 votes.)
“I don’t hate the Grammys, but I didn’t even watch this year for this very reason,” says Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner, who contributed to Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly, which won five Grammys but lost album of the year in 2016 to Swift’s 1989. “I knew this was going to happen – we have seen it.”
February 16th, 2017