There’s really no scientific way to analyze this, but I’m quite sure we’ve never heard Kanye West speak this much.
Interviews, rants, tweets — we are not short on Kanye West words. Yet, this wasn’t always so. Around this time last year, we were thirsty to hear from the rapper. Kanye West first made himself available to the NYTimes, in a stunning Q/A that covered his entire career.
There’s quotes galore in the article, but here’s the one that’s relevant to today’s discussion:
“I don’t care about the Grammys; I just would like for the statistics to be more accurate.”
Kanye goes on to say:
“I don’t want them to rewrite history right in front of us. At least, not on my clock. I really appreciate the moments that I was able to win rap album of the year or whatever. But after a while, it’s like: ‘Wait a second; this isn’t fair. This is a setup.’”
The fix is happening again.
Last week, the Grammys announced the nominations for this year’s awards. Kanye’s Yeezus was nominated, but only for two niche awards, Best Rap Song and Best Rap Album. (Compare that to Jay Z and his Magna Carta… Holy Grail album, which led the pack with nine nominations).
It was only a matter of time before Kanye responded, and he did last night, during a Yeezus tour stop in Phoenix, Arizona, saying:
“And Yeezus is the top one or two album on every single list, but only gets two nominations from the Grammys. What are they trying to say?”
It’s a legit point by Kanye.
It’s hard to call any other project other than Yeezus the Album of the Year. Even if you don’t enjoy the music — and that’s understandable; it’s relentlessly dark — you have to respect it. It’s mean, loud and rude. Every song is distinctive. (I don’t listen to “On Sight,” but I can describe to you how it sounds — lasers and choirs come to mind).
No album has pushed hip-hop music forward like Yeezus just did. Which explains the snub: the Grammys don’t reward revolutionary music. They reward throwback artists who make classical sounding music. (This happens because of how the Grammy process is structured; behind-the-scenes producers, engineers and industry folk from back-in-the-day dictate what the best current music is).
So that’s why Mumford & Sons is going win the Grammy over Frank Ocean, or why Adele is taking it over Jay Z and Kanye West.
The Grammys have been criminally unkind to hip-hop, the music that has dominated pop music over the last 15 years. Only two rap albums have Best Album Grammys — Lauryn Hill for The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill and Outkast for Speakerboxxx/The Love Below — and both projects are hybrid albums.
When it comes to Best Rap Album, the awards rarely go to the projects that are setting trends; traditionally, the rap albums that sold the most get the award.
This year, two rap albums were nominated for Best Album: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis for The Heist and Kendrick Lamar for good kid, m.A.A.d city.
Kendrick Lamar should win the award. good kid is a beautiful and dense album, one that reminds people how powerful hip-hop can be. It was also the best-written album in all of music, one that spoke for the 99 percent in the struggle. It won’t win, though. Frank Ocean was in the same position last year with Channel Orange, a stunning album that shifted the conversation, and it lost to Mumford & Sons.
Then there’s Macklemore and Ryan Lewis: a duo who made a fun LP with The Heist. But it’s no Album of the Year. And history will decide how the Macklemore reign will be remembered.
Which leaves three candidates left: Taylor Swift and her Red album, Sara Bareilles for The Blessed Unrest and Daft Punk for Random Access Memories.
Taylor is gonna win. Because traditional pop stars who make albums like Red win Grammys. Let’s forget someone like Miley Cyrus, who slayed with her Bangerz album, and who dominated the conversation in pop music this year.
The album that got the most Grammy nominations this year was Jay Z, for Magna Carta… Holy Grail, a disappointing album, by the lofty Jay Z expectations. But, it sounds like a traditional rap album, and it sold a lot, so it’ll win the Best Rap Album Grammy.
The Grammys will keep on fucking up the statistics. What will Kanye say next?
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