On February 15th we may or may not watch Kendrick Lamar make music history. The 58th offering of the Gramophone Awards is upon us and Hip-Hop’s and ya mama’s favorite, K.Dot, is nominated for 11 Grammys. The most for any rapper in a single night, and only second overall to the late great Michael Jackson. The probability for feast or famine is high, remember 2014 when Kendrick received seven nominations for Good kid mad city and took home the big goose egg? Yeah, that burned.
I’m hoping Kendrick can grab a strong eight awards, and in the high level categories such as “song of the year” and “album of the year.” Eight is the most any artist has won in a single night (MJ and Santana) and its unlikely the academy of arts and sciences are going to let MJ be dethroned by a hip hop artist. The culture has had a complicated relationship with the Grammys to say the least.
From the very beginning, it was a problem. The Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance category was first presented in 1989 to DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince for “Parents Just Don’t Understand” but they and other hip hop artists boycotted the show because the award was not televised. The category was televised from 1990-2014, as hip-hop became “popular music” for American society. 2015 was the first year the Best Rap performance was not televised since its induction in 1989. There may be a variety of reasons hip-hop categories were moved to the minors, but I suspect a few categories will make an appearance this year.
To Pimp a Butterfly has had a dichotomy of reviews. It was some people’s treasure and other people’s trash. Some accused it of being too righteous and heavy. Other’s felt it was sonically a masterpiece. Those who have voting power within the Academy of Arts and Sciences clearly favored sonic masterpiece. That’s how we got to 11 Grammy nominations. Kendrick worked this album all year. Putting out visuals as late as December of 2015 and scheduled to perform at the ceremony; it is clear Kendrick wants this album to bear fruit.
I’m not holding my breath, I know how award shows go. While I don’t think he will walk out empty handed if he walks out with five Grammys I cannot lie and say I won’t feel cheated. I will. And mostly because I love hip-hop and I want the culture to get be on full display by one of its current front-runners. I want Kendrick to have 11 opportunities to get on stage and thank his mama and be black. Blackity Black.
Because we don’t get these gems anymore, and I think we need them. We need to see them on primetime broadcast television. For the children.