As hip-hop culture grows more diverse in voice and representation, the Grammys seem slow to catch up. The genre easily boasts several vibrant subgenres and possible spinoff styles of music. They might even deserve categories of their own. But during the industry’s most recognizable awards show, all artists who rap are lumped into the same lane. In this day and age, that’s akin to lumping all singers into the same genre just because they sing. Alas, it seems that hip-hop still may have miles to go before being fully recognized as more than just “rap music” in the eyes of those handing out the coveted golden gramophone. But who’s really responsible for this?
It’s quite possible, and even probable, that certain constructs of privilege and race are at play when it comes to dishing out awards. But chances are, there’s no conspiracy to undermine or culturally appropriate hip-hop at the Grammys. Most likely the reason that artists who “deserve” certain awards aren’t getting them is because those who would advocate for them simply aren’t exercising their right to vote. To my knowledge, not everyone who CAN participate in the voting process actually DOES…. those who are left to participate tend to vote for what they are most familiar with. This makes a fine case for why cultural impact and the voice of the people should count for something at these awards shows. Maybe we’ll see that evolution before 2042… but until then, or until voting behavior changes, we might well be stuck with a few more decades of random Kanye outbursts.
Either way, Prince doesn’t look too worried about it.