The 2020 Grammy Awards were on Jan. 26 and there are a few things we’d like to discuss. Not like we’re surprised, but the Grammys were again put in the spotlight for being biased against Black and brown people. There were more people of color (POC) than usual in the big four categories of Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year and Best New Artist. However, each of those awards went to Billie Eilish, an 18-year-old white girl that dresses like Big Pun. Now there’s no denying that Eilish has some talent, but the question is did she really deserve these awards or is the Recording Academy giving out awards for white people doing the same old sh*t instead of more talented Black and brown artists?
Now let us start with Tyler, the Creator, a rapper/songwriter and founder of Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All (OFWGKTA). He won the Grammy for Best Rap Album for his project “IGOR,” although he is more currently known to produce genre-bending music that is more of the alternative variety. When I think of a rap album, I don’t think of “IGOR,” I think about “Room 25” by Noname, “So Much Fun” by Young Thug, or “Better Dayz” by Tupac. “IGOR” is a great album and a continuation of a change that Tyler, the Creator, has been doing since his previous project.
After he won the award, Tyler, the Creator had a few things to say about the Recording Academy.
“It sucks that whenever we — and I mean guys that look like me — do anything that’s genre-bending or that’s anything they always put it in a rap or urban category,” he responded to a reporter from Rolling Stone. “I don’t like that ‘urban’ word — it’s just a politically correct way to say the n-word to me.”
This is not the first time that Black artists have felt this way. It’s kind of hard to articulate feelings on this topic because I think that people of color need to be recognized and awarded for their accomplishments. But it seems like everywhere you turn there’s a group of Swifties (Taylor Swift fans) that are crying about how she’s the best and an “icon,” even though she so blatantly copies and takes inspiration from Black and brown people.
Black artists can put out any type of project and still be put in the urban category.
FKA Twigs, a Black British singer who was nominated for Best Music Video for her song “Cellophane,” has also spoken on this topic.
“When I first released music and no one knew what I looked like, I would read comments like: ’I’ve never heard anything like this before, it’s not in a genre.’ And then my picture came out six months later, now she’s an R&B singer,” FKA Twigs said in a 2014 interview with The Guardian.
This is just one side of the problem. Other than being short-changed in the breadth of music that these artists can be affiliated with, there’s also the problem of even getting in the door at all. When it comes to Latinx music, the Grammys has made a place at the table for Latinx artists… but did they really? The winner of the Best Latin Rock, Urban, or Alternative Album, Rosalía, is a white woman from Spain. Now last time I checked, Spain is not part of Latin America. The Recording Academy jumped at the opportunity to give the award to someone who spoke Spanish, but they didn’t care enough to do the research.
Hispanic is NOT the same as Latinx. We can’t even focus on getting afro-Latinx artists in the categories if they won’t even get white Latinx people in!
All we can do is continue to support the Black and brown artists we already love because we can’t continue to wait on white people to acknowledge us. We have to make sure they know that we understand the game and we’re not down for the sh*ts.