Grammy Lessons

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She is the Modern Day Michael Jackson. The greatest living live performer. With nearly 200 million albums sold as a solo artist, and a member of Destiny’s Child, this girl’s claim of running the world is a valid one. Consistently ranked by TIME as one of the most influential people in the world. A myriad of Billboard accomplishments, a plethora of BET, AMA , MTV, and Grammy award nominations, and victories. King Bey is the epitome of musical royalty, and we would be foolish not to Bow Down. Nonetheless, there has been a great injustice that we need fixed this February. Beyoncé does not need any committee, writer, or critic to solidify her as the reigning monarch of music, because the people have already elected her as such. Personally, I have a disdain for awards, because I believe no “expert” really has the right to tell anyone they are good enough or just simply inadequate. Self-confidence, self-appreciation should be all that really matters. But, sometimes the principle outweighs your own perspective, and no matter what these artists or I say they dream of winning awards, they all think back to singing in their mirrors, constructing crazy costumes, and practicing acceptance speeches. Awards are meaningful, and valued as a showing of great appreciation. Yes, Beyoncé has over 60 Grammy nominations, and 20 wins, but the committee has done her a great disservice by never awarding her Album of the Year. The 59th Annual Grammy Awards Ceremony, needs to right this wrong and formally crown the King. Wins in the urban contemporary category, and pop categories are all cool, but the biggest award needs to go to music’s biggest artist this year.

Beyoncé’s groundbreaking visual album Beyoncé, was a fiery, honest masterpiece that dealt with insecurities after giving birth, sexuality, and conveyed the empowerment of women. She received unwarranted criticism for exploring her sexuality, because we unfortunately live in a society that thinks this is a bad idea for women to do. Can you believe that? Songs like “Drunk in Love” and “Partition” were attacked, because people did not think Beyoncé should explore the sexual nature of her monogamous love. However, fans and critics alike had an affinity for the album, it became her 5th number one album, which made her the first woman to have her first 5 albums debut at number 1. Beyoncé was the fastest-selling album in the history of the iTunes store, it had a succinct message, impeccable imagery attached to it, and don’t forget it was a surprise, all of this commercial success with not one bit of promotion. Then came the 57th Annual Grammy Awards. Could you ever forget that February night? We all sat assured. Beyoncé was a no brainer for Album of the Year. This was her moment. This was Jordan finally beating the Pistons. This was LeBron in 2011: “about damn time.” The Queen was finally about to win the ring she had coveted her whole career. But then the academy shocked us all, and didn’t put the ring on it.

Many of us felt Kanye’s disbelief, as he infamously almost interrupted Beck. Morning Phase was an incredible composition, filled with great instrumentation. Yet, if you’re an honest person you know damn well, you thought Beyoncè would win. Hell, even Beck thought Beyoncè would win. We were all left looking for answers. Was it her race? Her sex? Both? Were voters just split between Sam Smith and Beyoncè? We may never know, but I’m sure we all know the real answer.

Fast forward to February 2016. The world was out-of-order, until Beyoncé put everyone in the proper “Formation.” 

Beysus had rose again, championing her blackness, jabbing at her haters. empowering women. She showed she was proud of her family’s physical characteristics, which are characteristics usually condemned, or not perceived to be beautiful by society. Beyoncé let the world know though, that she views them as aesthetic feats of perfection. The imagery in this video drew attention to instances of police brutality that have plagued America since it’s inception. They called her anti-cop, and racist, but she had achieved her goal and caused “all of that conversation.”  They accused her of jumping on the black girls rock bandwagon, but Bey “Been on” y’all don’t remember them all black girl bands?  Moreover though, we knew an album would follow, and in April we got what stands as her magnum opus Lemonade.

Maybe the problem with Beyoncé was that it was a little commercialized: a few too many tracks were designed for the radio. Lemonade is the older, bolder, stronger sister to Beyoncé. Far from a radio album, although “Sorry” is quite infectious and one can’t help but sing a long. It is Not just a feminist album, but a black feminist album, a journey of empowering yourself through inadequacy, insecurity, and infidelity. She was able to convey the feelings of so many black women dealing with a society that reinforces this idea of them not being good enough yet, she was able to empower them by advocating for them to be unapologetic, telling them winners don’t quit on themselves, frequently flipping gender roles: taking her man shopping, blessing him with a ride on her helicopter, and letting them know that it’s possible for you and your husband to both be a black Bill Gates. Lemonade is a rebellion against insidious traditional views of patriarchy, race, and gender roles: it told everyone black was still beautiful, women don’t have to be dependent on men, and its nothing wrong with them putting their goals first.

I’ll admit it, as the leader of the HovHive, it was tough for me to listen to Lemonade. I felt it was blasphemous, and Bey would agree, as she constantly attacked the God Mc’s God complex on “Don’t Hurt Yourself.” Maybe he did cheat (jay would never) maybe it was them taking advantage of the rumors about their marriage failing. We may never know, but we do know that this is her best work, and should be labeled as the best work of 2016. Adele’s album was great, and had some record-breaking sales, but universally it lacked artistically. Views  did not live up to the hype, but a million in a week cannot be ignored. Purpose gave Bieber his best first-week sales and is a personal favorite of mine, but it was not met with critical acclaim. Thus, victory for Beyoncé in the most coveted category is way overdue. The academy can be inconsistent at times, but they claim that commercial performance and the actual art are the most important aspects in picking album of the year. Lemonade was universally one of the highest rated albums of 2016:  Rolling Stone, Billboard, Entertainment Weekly,  The Guardian,  Digital Spy, The Independent, The Associated Press, The New York Times (Jon Pareles list), Los Angeles Times (Mikael Wood list),  Pop Matters, Pretty Much Amazing,  Idolator, Stereogum, Complex, Consequence of Sound, and Wired ranked it number 1 for 20016. It sold nearly 700,000 in the first week with no genuine promotion: we had no idea what Lemonade was when Beyoncê posted about it, and streaming represents a large part of the music consumption market, but this album only streamed on Tidal, so doing nearly 700k is an amazing feat. Her claim to win Album of the Year is a flawless one, and the academy must finally do the right thing.

Regarded as a diva, a deity, and hopefully the winner of the album of the year award at the 59th Annual Grammys; Beyoncé Knowles-Carter.

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2 comments

  1. You made a lot of great points with this article! There are a few things I would like to add. After Beyoncé lost Album of the Year to Beck in 2015, I decided to do some research. I discovered that the last African American woman to win Album of the Year was Lauryn Hill in 1998 for her album, “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.” I also noticed that the Grammy’s hasn’t given Album of the Year to many African American artist and when they do, it’s usually an older artist like Ray Charles and Herbie Hancock. The last African American artist who was a popular artist when they won was Outkast in 2004. When Beyoncé lost to Beck, there were many reason why people said she didn’t win and one of them being was Beck writing all of his songs and Beyoncé having many songwriters. I believe that logic is false because there are so many artist and groups who have won Album of the Year and had lots of songwriters.

    Last year, I honestly thought that Kendrick Lamar was going to win but Taylor Swift won. I had a big problem with that and this is why. When Taylor Swift won Album of the Year in 2010, she won based of the Grammys committee feeling bad for her about the Kanye West situation. In 2016, Kanye West came out when the song “Famous” and of course the famous Taylor Swift line “I made the bitch famous” caused a feud between Kanye and Taylor. The Grammy committee yet again feel bad for Taylor Swift giving her Album of the Year yet again and gave her the opportunity to diss Kanye West on live TV while accepting her speech.

    When I read this article, I had to question one part and that was the part when you spoke about the album “BEYONCE” being too radio friendly. If that statement is true, than how the HELL did Taylor Swift win Album of the Year???? The part that really pissed me off was Kendrick Lamar had the highest rated album in 2015, and spoke about the African American community and black love, but a pop radio friendly record won Album of the Year?! Kendrick’s album had commercial success and had the critical acclaim but he didn’t win Album of the Year. There is no excuse on how Beyoncé lost Album of the Year, but Taylor Swift won. They had the same amount of songwriters, both radio friendly (Although to me “BEYONCE” wasn’t that friendly), and both were the best-selling of their year. Some may debate this and I would love to hear it because something is not adding up!!!!

    This year, I’m scared for Lemonade! Although hands down Lemonade is the best album in her category, the Grammys has shown throughout the history that black music shouldn’t be awarded with Album of the Year. I am hoping that the Grammy’s fix this issue this year and award Beyoncé with Album of the Year. If she doesn’t win, it’s probably going to be Sturgill Simpson. You can smell a “Beck” upset from a mile away. If Adele wins, it will again make me question why Beyoncé didn’t win in 2015!!!

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    • You are so right Markese, thanks so much for reading! Moreover, I concur I think with the committee a majority of the voters do not find black music as important, artistic, and captivating. The committee needs to become more diversified, your research shows that they tend to view black music as inadequate. I am pulling for Lemonade, but I agree with you again: I think the committee takes the safe route and gives it to Adele, especially because of the controversy “Formation caused”

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