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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