Black musicians deserve proper recognition at the Grammys

Over the past 60 years, the Grammys have only awarded 10 Black musicians with the coveted Album of the Year trophy. Many Black artists have taken note of this fact and decided not to attend the ceremony this year. The 61st Annual Grammy Awards took place Sunday night, and noticeably missing from the star-studded list of performances were nominees Drake, Childish Gambino and Kendrick Lamar. Grammys producer Ken Ehrlich told the New York Times he offered all three men performance spots but he was turned down by each. “The fact of the matter is,” Ehrlich told the Times, “When they don’t take home the big prize, the regard of the academy, and what the Grammys represent continues to be less meaningful to the hip-hop community, which is sad.” The Grammys have famously snubbed many Black musicians for some of their most critically acclaimed work in recent years, instead, opting to give them their wins in the Best Urban Contemporary Album category. Beyoncé and Frank Ocean both won in the Best Urban Contemporary Album category but were shut out of any Album of the Year wins for “Channel Orange,” “Lemonade” or Beyoncé’s self-titled album. I’d argue that all three of those

By | 2019-02-11T10:34:55-07:00 Feb 10, 2019 | 6:16 pm|Categories: Arts & Life, Columns, Showcase, Today|Tags: , , , , , , , |

Crowning the voice of the next generation

On April 16, Kendrick Lamar  accomplished an amazing feat by winning the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for Music for his April 2017 album, “DAMN.” This marks the first time the award has been given to an artist outside of the classical or jazz music genres. When you stand back and look at the bigger picture, this isn’t just a win for Lamar — but for the hip-hop community at large. The buzz surrounding the award may not drastically increase his riches, or propel his career to new heights; however, what it does bring is an overdue respect and recognition to the genre of  hip-hop, which is often overlooked. While hip-hop has been around for nearly four decades, people often do not hold the genre in the same tier as the more “traditional” classical or jazz genre. We have seen the start of an effort to change this recently, with the induction of N.W.A. into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2016, and Jay-Z being the first rapper inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2017. After the release of “DAMN.” Kendrick headlined both weekends of 2017’s Coachella and took home six MTV awards and five Grammy awards. He

‘To Pimp a Butterfly’ promotes important discussion

When the biggest rapper of our day dedicates his success to the conversation of black self-empowerment, it should not be ignored. Kendrick Lamar’s third studio album, “To Pimp a Butterfly,” surfaced on the night of Mar. 15, a week prior to its scheduled release date. His powerfully poetic, elaborate discourse on black empowerment is uniquely special in a number of ways. His tirade begins with the album title itself, which references Harper Lee’s classic novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” in which a black man is unjustly tried in court. Lamar seeks to highlight the innocence of the black community – the butterfly – and their exploitation, or how they are “pimped out,” by cultural problems, record companies, racism and an overarching lack of self-worth. He points to a slave/master dynamic between record companies and artists. He explains the way consumerism and materialism captivate and harm the black community. He highlights problems in standards of black beauty and self-worth. In all these things, Lamar promotes a sense of unity and self-empowerment. Unlike the race-baiters and political activists of our day, Lamar draws upon a bigger picture to discuss race. Too much of our country’s recent dialogue on race relies on media-hype

By | 2015-04-14T10:55:15-07:00 Mar 26, 2015 | 9:42 am|Categories: Columns, Music, Opinions, Showcase, Today|Tags: , , |

Kendrick Lamar’s ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’ metamorphoses the rap industry for the better

Because of its early and unexpected release, Kendrick Lamar’s album “To Pimp a Butterfly” is the drop that needs to be heard around the world. Alongside rap and vocals, Lamar’s third album “To Pimp a Butterfly” not only embodies his poetic street-style of storytelling but also embraces experimental elements of jazz, funk and spoken word. In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Lamar talks about how his title was inspired by Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” which tells the story in the perspective of Scout and Jem, two children who go through the stages of childhood innocence to experiencing evil and confronting it at an adult level. Starting off as caterpillars that eventually break out from their cocoons—or, essentially the hood—the extraordinary artists eventually grow into the bold and beautiful butterflies that unexpectedly emerge onto the scene. Unfortunately, with the sad reality of fame comes the price of having to struggle and maintain the artist’s original beauty and work without being seen as “pimped out” or sold out. In the very end of the album’s last song “Mortal Man,” Lamar is interviewing rapper Tupac Shakur and reads Shakur a written poem that alludes to his perception and belief on,

By | 2015-03-24T17:13:51-07:00 Mar 19, 2015 | 11:12 am|Categories: Arts & Life|Tags: , , , , , |