Greetings, all.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple days, you’ve probably heard the news about Macklemore taking home everything but the kitchen sink quite a few Grammy Awards this past Sunday. This post isn’t about Macklemore’s win. More power to the guy, even though I’m not the biggest fan of The Heist. This post is more about two things. First, the Grammy system and then the average hip-hop fan. This is going to be a mouthful, so bear with me.

Welcome to Speed on the Beat's "Understanding the Grammys."

Welcome to Speed on the Beat’s “Understanding the Grammys (Kind Of)”

In order to speak on the Grammy system, we must know how it works. I won’t go into every nook and cranny, but here’s the gist of the main process. The Recording Academy indicates that, for this past cycle, the eligibility timeline was between 10/1/12 and 09/30/13. After that date, the Committee filtered through the submissions and began the nomination process around November (these sorts of things are usually capped off with a big concert shown on CBS). After the nominees are picked, over the next few weeks, nominees are voted on again (a person can only vote for 20 individual fields and the “Big Four,” Album/New Artist/Song/Record of the Year). Once all votes are cast, ballots are “tabulated by the independent accounting firm of Deloitte,” to have the winner revealed at the Ceremonies.

Personally, I’d like to see the timeline changed to reflect a calendar year. For instance, the 57th Grammy Awards in 2015 would showcase releases from the calendar year 2014. That way, albums that were released at the end of the year can be considered just as much as ones from the beginning. Sure, it’d push the awards back a few weeks, but a simple Google search shows earlier ceremonies (even up until the early 2000s) took place anywhere between late-February and early April. So, it (potentially) wouldn’t take much to allow this change. Heck, CBS could even show the nominees show around the Super Bowl season to maximize on viewership (that time is usually a dead time for broadcasters anyway, due to midseason breaks, etc.)

Secondly, after the overhaul of 2012, many awards were merged together. For instance, most R&B album categories were combined to create the blanket “Best R&B Album” and “Best Urban Contemporary Album” categories. What that means is that Rihanna will appear in a category with Tamar Braxton (Urban Contemporary). This is not meant to be ageist, even though it undoubtedly will sound such, but Tamar and Rihanna are on different planets (no matter how much Tamar you hear on WKYS). Heck, you could even argue that Rihanna’s album(s) have been more pop than anything. This argument actually gets to the root of my issue with the Grammys. They’re not racist, per se, but the way categories are voted on and put together is archaic. Yes, we can lump ten categories into one to save time, but it ultimately perpetuates a mindstate of conformity. It also paints artists with broad strokes, rather than honor them for what they did with their works. It limits the open-mindedness of the audience, as listeners will begin to believe that all “urban contemporary” sounds like Rihanna (or even a Tamar) and shun acts that don’t conform to that idea.

Thankfully, almost any artist can register to become a member. So, if you’re an artist that doesn’t like the way things are going down. Make sure your liner notes are on Discogs (that’s something I need to do myself) and that your albums are available for worldwide consumption. After that? Submit your application, hope you get accepted, then enact that change.


…and hopefully, you’ll get to high-five your way to success(fully changing the mindset of our world)

Now, my next point? I’ll keep it brief, but I’d like to talk to my hip-hop heads. Yes, you, the ones that are fake mad at Macklemore for beating Kendrick Lamar. Let me break it down to you like this. Even if we get a Grammy Selection Committee that’s full of people like me and you, there’s a chance that your favorite album will still be ignored. Why? Well, to be honest, it’s a numbers game. You, my friends, have to support your favorite artists (buy their music, tweet about them, tell others to buy their music, etc.) or no one else will. These artists, they’re doing fine with or without a Grammy. But, if we, as fans/fellow artists, want to see change and see more recognition for “The Real,” then we’ve got to recognize it ourselves. Plain and simple.

Finally, be sure to check my own new song “Thanatos (Stories Through Music)” out. A portion of all sales/paid streams from it will be donated to charity efforts in the DMV, such as Will Rap 4 Food, Inc., and to promote education efforts in the area (including a college fund for my own little one). Like I’ve said time and time again, we’re all we’ve got. So, be the change that you seek.

Until next time.

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