Grammys Under Fire for Lack of Diversity

During turbulent times of political and racial discourse and constant debates surrounding minority representation in the entertainment industry, it isn’t easy to ignore the stark contrast between the two headliners: “a white, blond woman whose music is shorn of any explicit political edge, vs. a black man whose newest music wears its jagged edges as badges of pride.” Taylor Swift (“1989”) and Kendrick Lamar (“To Pimp a Butterfly”) may be going head to head at the Grammys, but the awards show is facing the same type of criticism plaguing the Oscars.
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Kendrick Lamar Releases Powerful New Music Video

Kendrick Lamar has been a rising star in hip-hop since Section.80 was released in 2011. King Kendrick only took off from there with his brilliant fist album good kid mA.A.d city which touched upon many issues that plague poor and rough neighborhoods such as his hometown Compton, California. His most recent album, To Pimp A Butterfly expands upon some of those tribulations with a song entitled “Alright” being one of them. Watch the powerful music video below to see Kendrick reinforce the strong message of the song and continue to be a source of strength for those that look up to him.

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Is White Privilege to Blame for Kendrick Lamar’s Grammy Snub?

Seven. Kendrick Lamar was nominated for seven Grammy awards this year. In the Grammy calendar year, he made what is undeniably the best, most complete album. good kid, m.A.A.d city is more than just an album—it is an experience—a neo-blues, hip-hop opera. Yet, at the end of the night, he came away with nothing; and it seemed like everywhere he turned, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis were there snatching the awards he fought so hard for.

But it’s hard to hate Macklemore. Macklemore is a white rapper who addressed white privilege early in his career—something many white rappers have refused to acknowledge while laughing all the way to the bank—and continues to address it even on The Heist. He made an album without an A-list feature; instead, he asked his friends, Wanz, Ray Dalton, and Owuor Arunga, to feature on songs that would eventually become back-to-back number-one singles. He made his friends famous, how cool is that?

The Grammys have always been at least worthy of commentary on race relations and the politics of industry relationships; the Recording Academy’s voting body skews older and white. It would appear that the Grammys are more than willing to give out awards to musicians making black music, but not so willing to award black musicians. In walks Macklemore, a socio-politically-conscious rapper, but a white rapper nonetheless; this wouldn’t matter if history didn’t precede him. But the history is there.

To break this down simply for white readers: think about what it must be like to see people who look like you make incredible bodies of work, and yet consistently be denied accolades. What kind of message does that send and reinforce? Not having to think about this is the definition of white privilege.

Hip-hop is a culture that was born from marginalized Black and Hispanic communities, and rappers from those marginalized communities fought and protested for hip-hop awards to be included in the Grammys’ televised portion. There wasn’t even a Grammy award for Best Rap Album until 1996. This is the lineage Kendrick, not Macklemore, descends from. Macklemore admitted via instagram that Kendrick’s album was better, but how much does that help quell the anger of fans who have seen Black artists, and specifically hip-hop artists, snubbed one too many times?

But we’re not afraid to say it: Kendrick Lamar was snubbed in the Best Rap Album category. Macklemore made a great, energetic LP; Kendrick made a 21st century masterpiece.

Let us know your thoughts on Kendrick Lamar’s Grammy snub in the comments.


TDE CEO Attacks GQ Story on Kendrick Lamar as Having “Racial Overtones”

The CEO of TDE—the label home of superstar rapper Kendrick Lamar—Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith, has released a statement regarding the apparently indelicate matter of Kendrick Lamar‘s recent GQ Man of the Year issue cover story. Short version: He’s not happy. At all.

While Tiffith noted that he and the Compton rapper are honored by the nod, he claims the Steve Marsh-penned article incorrectly displays who and what their company stands for. He even goes as far as to say that there are “racial overtones” within the story, and went so far as to have pulled Kendrick Lamar from performing at GQ’s November 12 ‘Man of the Year’ party.

The release:

In 2004, I founded Top Dawg Entertainment (TDE) with the goal of providing a home for west coast artists and a platform for these artists to express themselves freely and to give their music to the world. From our beginning in 2005 with Jay Rock, to developing Kendrick Lamar, ScHoolboy Q, and Ab-Soul, to most recently singing Isaiah Rashad and SZA. We, as TDE, have always prided ourselves in doing everything with heart, honor, and respect.

This week, Kendrick Lamar was named one of GQ’s 2013 Men Of The Year, an honor that should have been celebrated as a milestone in his career and for the company.

Instead, the story, written by Steve Marsh, put myself and my company in a negative light. Marsh’s story was more focused on what most people would see as drama or bs. To say he was “surprised at our discipline” is completely disrespectful. Instead of putting emphasis on the good that TDE has done for west coast music, and for hip hop as a whole, he spoke on what most people would consider whats wrong with Hip Hop music. Furthermore, Kendrick deserved to be accurately documented. The racial overtones, immediately reminded everyone of a time in hip-hop that was destroyed by violence, resulting in the loss of two of our biggest stars. We would expect more from a publication with the stature and reputation that GQ has. As a result of this misrepresentation, I pulled Kendrick from his performance at GQ’s annual Man Of The Year party Tuesday, November 12th.

While we think it’s a tremendous honor to be named as one of the Men Of The Year, these lazy comparisons and offensive suggestions are something we won’t tolerate. Our reputation, work ethic, and product is something that we guard with our lives.

Steve Marsh and editors for GQ did not immediately respond to a request for comment; neither did a publicity contact for the magazine. We’ll update here if they do.

UPDATE: GQ‘s editor-in-chief Jim Nelson has released the following statement in response to Top Dawg’s decision to pull Kendrick Lamar from his performance at the Man Of The Year party:

“Kendrick Lamar is one of the most talented new musicians to arrive on the scene in years. That’s the reason we chose to celebrate him, wrote an incredibly positive article declaring him the next King of Rap, and gave him our highest honor: putting him on the cover of our Men of the Year issue. I’m not sure how you can spin that into a bad thing, and I encourage anyone interested to read the story and see for themselves. We were mystified and sorely disappointed by Top Dawg’s decision to pull him at the last minute from the performance he had promised to give. The real shame is that people were deprived of the joy of seeing Kendrick perform live. I’m still a huge fan.”


MIXLY Panel Discussion: Diversity and Hip Hop

UPDATE: We are excited to announce that the first ever MIXLY Panel Discussion will be airing live this coming Friday at 12:00 noon on this website and on our YouTube channel. “Diversity and Hip Hop” brings together two leading scholars of hip hop and diversity to discuss the deeper meaning of recent events such as Miley Cyrus’s VMA performance, Macklemore’s Rolling Stone interview, and Robin Thicke’s (controversial) song of the summer, “Blurred Lines.”
We’re pleased to announce the two participants today. Marcia Alesan Dawkins is a communication professor at USC Annenberg, contributor to numerous publications, including The Huffington Post and The Root, and author of both the critically acclaimed Clearly Invisible: Racial Passing and the Color of Cultural Identity as well as the recently released and well-reviewed Eminem: The Real Slim Shady (Hip Hop in America.) Rebecca Haithcoat is currently a music writer for MySpace and has previously worked as the assistant music editor of LA Weekly, where she wrote about numerous hip hop figures, including Kendrick Lamar, V-Nasty, Iggy Azalea and Speak.
Be sure to tune in Friday at noon for Marcia and Rebecca’s take on the hottest topics of the summer! You can watch right here on the website or on our YouTube page, where the discussion will be streaming live.
Photo from MTV.

The Lonely Island f/ Adam Levine & Kendrick Lamar – YOLO [MUSIC VIDEO]

YOLO became a popular acronym amongst the youth once Drake released his popular song “The Motto”. It became a bit overused and misused as young men and women started using it as an excuse for reckless behavior. During his time on Saturday Night Live, Kendrick Lamar was able to join comedic music group The Lonely Island as well as Adam Levine to create a song YOLO where they bring new meaning to it by telling you how to live safer since You Only Live Once. Hit the jump to watch the video. Read More