Last night’s Grammy awards went basically as everyone could have guessed on the rap front. Kendrick swept the rap awards, all but one of which were announced before the broadcast. He was played off when his Best Rap Album acceptance speech started running too long.
Apart from the early success of TPAB, the highlight of the show was Kendrick’s manic performance. Surrounded first by prison imagery, shackled to a chain gang, and then later by Afrocentric iconography, the Compton MC blazed through “The Blacker The Berry,” “Alright,” and a third untitled song while illuminated by pyrotechnics and blacklight.
Also on display, via a camera crew in New York, was a performance by the cast of the when-did-schoolhouse-rock-get-dope Broadway smash Hamilton. It was the kind of thing where I was half expecting them to try and teach me how a bill becomes a law at any second, but I didn’t mind. The rappers involved were talented, and creator Lin Manuel Miranda clearly has a true love of hip hop. This he made clear when he later rapped an acceptance speech for Best Musical Theater Album on behalf of the cast.
TPAB cleaned up in the rap-centric awards, but when it came to the general categories, K Dot came away notably empty handed. “Alright” lost Song Of The Year and Record Of The Year to Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud” and the Mark Ronson/Bruno Mars mega-hit “Uptown Funk,” The real snub came later in the night though. “Alright” was a great song, but To Pimp A Butterfly was never meant to stand as anything less than a full collection. As a complete work, it is worth way more than the sum of its parts. So when it lost Album Of The Year to Taylor Swift’s 1989, some eyebrows were raised.
So how do you win a Grammy? Kendrick made an epic, thought-provoking, artistic triumph about modern blackness in America. Taylor’s 1989 was a collection of unconnected radio hits, and it sold five times as many copies. From this it would appear that commercial success is what the Grammys are trying to gauge. But when the Carter III was up for the award, it lost to the Robert Plant/Allison Krauss collab Raising Sand that sold only a fraction of what Weezy’s masterpiece sold.
So what’s the answer? How much a Grammy really cost? I guess the answer is: whatever you’re going to pay for it. It’s worth as much as you let it be. And when it comes to Kendrick? I think he gon’ be alright.
complete list of winner can be found here.