Why Don’t the GRAMMYs Know Hip Hop?


The 2022 Grammys featured a tribute to over 50 years of hip hop. But is this tribute genuine when the Grammys have disrespected prominent hip hop artists time and time again? Photo credits to Chris Pizzello.

Jacopo Congiu-Hughes, A&E Editor

On Nov. 15, 2022, the Grammy committee officially announced their nominations for their best tracks, albums, performances, and artists of the year. And yet again, they came up short in one particular category: hip hop. It is a well known fact in the hip hop community that the Grammys are notoriously bad at nominating and awarding hip hop albums, songs, and artists.

Who could forget Kendrick Lamar’s highly acclaimed masterpiece Good Kid, m.A.A.d City losing to Macklemore’s Heist (a choice so bad that Macklemore himself publicly apologized to Kendrick for receiving the award, claiming Kendrick was “robbed”)? Or when Tyler, The Creator said that being awarded a Rap Album Grammy for his 2019 album IGOR was a “backhanded compliment,” as many people, including Tyler himself, did not consider IGOR a hip hop album at all.

That last incident provoked accusations of racism towards the Grammys, as Tyler claimed that the reason IGOR was nominated as a Rap Album was that “whenever guys that look like me do anything that’s genre-bending, they always put it in a ‘rap’ or ‘urban’ category.”

But racism isn’t the only issue many have with the Grammys choice in hip hop music. Many were angered this year by the Grammys Rap Album of the Year Nominations, which drew criticism from fans claiming that the nominations poorly represented the actual best works of the year, and mainly reflected popularity and marketability.

All of the albums nominated were very commercially successful, especially the albums Come Home the Kids Miss You by Jack Harlow and God Did by DJ Khaled. This is what the issue of hip hop in the Grammys boils down to.

Junior Adam Shaheen was especially surprised by the Grammys announcement of nominations. “I think Kendrick deserved it, but some of the nominations, honestly, were quite outlandish,” Shaheen said.  Shaheen also noted that some albums didn’t deserve the nomination. “Jack Harlow. I don’t think he should’ve been on there. I don’t think he should’ve been close to being one of the ones nominated,” he said.

Although the Grammys did make the correct decision on the important night, choosing Kendrick Lamar’s album Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers over the 4 other nominees, the choice in nominations was already enough to offend those snubbed, such as rapper Denzel Curry. He took to Twitter and said, “I can literally name you 10 other albums that were good congrats to kdot and push but all that other shit cmon bruh.” Although he congratulated Kendrick Lamar and Pusha T on their nominations, he lambasted the Grammys’ other 3 nominations, and rightfully so.

I can name even more than 10; here are 11 albums, all easily better and more deserving of a nomination than Come Home ... and God Did, all released in 2022. There’s Westside Gunn’s 10, Earl Sweatshirt’s SICK!, JID’s The Forever Story, Denzel Curry’s Melt My Eyez See Your Future, Vince Staple’s Ramona Parks Broke My Heart, Joey Bada$$’s 2000, Freddie Gibbs’ Soul Sold Separately, Redveil’s Learn 2 Swim, Metro Boomin’s Heroes and Villains, Billy Wood’s Aethiopes, and perhaps best of all, Little Simz’s amazing NO THANK YOU.

All these amazing artists were snubbed, while mediocre and already successful ones like Jack Harlow and DJ Khaled are rewarded. It seems that the Grammys aren’t in fact nominating the best hip hop albums, but instead the most popular ones. The Grammys should be a tool for rewarding and promoting innovation and creativity among artists, not for already popular and established artists to be praised for creating the safest and most mediocre work possible.

This isn’t just my opinion either. It’s not without good reason that many hip hop and R&B artists have boycotted the Grammys over the years: Drake, Kanye, the Weeknd, Childish Gambino, Jay-Z, Frank Ocean, Nicki Minaj, and others. It’s very well recognized within the hip hop community that the Grammys are hardly a measure of artistic quality, so much so that many don’t even consider the Grammys an important award at all.

The solution to make the Grammys more accurate and knowledgeable on hip hop, while also increasing the waning viewership is  changing the makeup of the secret committees, and make the voting process more transparent. Although many may be unaware, the committees that choose nominations and eventually winners are entirely secret, meaning that no one beyond the committee knows who’s making the decisions. Perhaps making the lists public, and allowing the public to choose themselves who ought to make these important decisions, would increase the very low trust and transparency the Grammys have. Until then, hip hop fans and artists will continue to care to a limited extent about the Grammys.