Aliens have landed on Earth. They’ve descended upon our planet in a massive UFO with a specific task: to use advanced algorithms to sift through hundreds of album reviews from publications like Rolling Stone and the highest-trending topics on Twitter throughout the year. Then, they pin each search result up to a massive cork board and blindly tossed darts with their appendages at each option until they get about eight to stick.
This is the only process I could fathom that was used to select the headlining nominations for the 2020 Grammy Awards, released on Nov. 20. Because frankly, there’s so many incredible misses and oversights of popular culture in 2019 that it just seemed like the top albums, songs, even artists were chosen by someone who’d only just familiarized themselves with American culture.
A few major complaints include the distinct lack of Taylor Swift; the omission of Tyler, The Creator and his widely-praised album “IGOR” from major honors; and the inclusion of Lil Nas X’s “7” in the “Album of the Year” category despite it being aggressively mediocre outside of “Old Town Road.”
Yet the most mind-boggling slight from the Grammys this year is to the rap industry. Out of the four major categories – Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Record of the Year and Best New Artist – Nas X and Post Malone’s song “Sunflower” were the lone references to the genre.
Yes, this issue certainly may have some personal bias involved, as I’m a huge hip-hop fan. But the Grammys have seemed to completely overlook the fact that rap has become arguably the most popular genre of music in today’s world, comprising approximately 18 out of the 40 non-Christmas songs that have hit the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 thus far this year.
How about some love for 21 Savage’s incredible album “i am > i was” or especially his collaboration with J. Cole on said album in his career-defining song “a lot?” What about Young Thug’s widely-loved latest project, “So Much Fun?” Anything for Travis Scott’s “HIGHEST IN THE ROOM,” YG and Tyga’s “Go Loko,” DaBaby’s “Suge?” Most outlandishly, how does Megan Thee Stallion – whose signature song “Hot Girl Summer” took over the internet so overwhelmingly and fiercely that she literally trademarked it – not get a nomination for “Best New Artist?” Am I missing something?
In all fairness, the Grammys did certainly nail a few nominees; Lizzo, Lana Del Rey, Billie Eilish and Ariana Grande would all be deserving owners of Album of the Year. But of course, even a broken clock is right two times a day.
Even though hip-hop moguls like Kendrick Lamar, Drake, Childish Gambino and Cardi B – all of whom’s work was featured in top categories from the 2019 Grammys – haven’t been as active in releasing music this year, there are still a wealth of other worthy nominees. It’s disappointing to see rap marginalized by the most prominent music awards in the United States – especially when much of the genre’s popularity and quality this past year has been measurably equal or better than that of its companions in rhythm and blues, pop and rock.
I hope those aliens return to Earth next year and continue throwing darts at their corkboards. Maybe then, by pure random chance, Stallion or Savage or Thug will actually receive the cross-genre attention they deserve.