Letter from the Editor: The Lingering Trauma of Being Compared to Tyler the Creator and Other Grammy's 2018 Thoughts
The 60th annual Grammy Awards are airing tonight, and with it the the cloud of sadness thats followed me for the past few days as I awaited having to sit through the whole 3 hours ordeal is finally lifting. I am almost free.
If you, like Rihanna the past 2 years, had all but given up on the Grammy's as an institution, you've probably come back this year, like Rihanna, because of the distinct cultural climate in which we find ourselves. After being criticized in recent years for atrocities including but not limited too: (2014) Macklemore winning Best RAP album over Kendrick Lamar, (2016) Taylor Swift winning Album of the year over Kendrick Lamar, and (2017) Adele winning Album of the Year over Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter, its understandable that for a lot of people enough was enough!
Now, I don't particularly have anything against the winners mentioned above (obviously that is except for Taylor Swift whom in my opinion is about as likable as a sandy diaper thats washed ashore to bake in the midday sun), but fool me once Grammy's, shame on you, pick Macklemore over Kendrick Lamar in a category about Rap ability BITCH YOU TRIED IT.
This year is different however. For the very first time in the 60 (SIX-ZERO) years of these awards, 2018 marks the very first time that a white male artist was not nominated for Album of the Year or Record of the Year, the two biggest awards of the night (See all the 2018 nominees and past winners here). Strange since it seemed all 2017 I could not escape "The Shape of You" by the lé gingembre (thats french for 'endangered white person') Ed Sheeran. That song basically broke every Billboard record for the longest weeks at number 1 on the pop charts, and not that the Grammys should give out awards for commercial success over musical merit, but like, they gave an award to Macklemore...for rapping..(IM SORRY IM STILL NOT OVER IT) so you never really know with them. While Eddy was nominated for some other categories, it does not seem like a mistake that the Grammys chose this moment in time to suddenly start highlighting the contributions of minorities to the industry they've long helped define.
As someone who has for many years watched most award shows not necessarily for who wins or who loses specifically, but rather, for what it says about the current state of the culture based on the winners and losers. Award shows are the summary pages of an industry's year, and it says so much more that Adele's 25, a melancholic, introspective album, won in 2017 over Beyonce's Lemonade, an uncharacteristically personal, complicated and angry body of work. It says, at least to me, not that Adele is better than Beyonce (Hah) but that in the year of 2016, what society wanted was an unchallenging, likable, easily understood set of emotions, over a knotty, messy, angry, story about infidelity, race, and injustice. Listen, I get it, and so did Adele, and thats why she got up on that stage and gave an apology speech to Beyonce; we all would have.
This year the Grammys got it too. Preempting a twitter storm of #GrammysAlSoWhite they chose to stack the deck with melanin to make sure they remained relevant. Again, I don't think its important who wins or losses, because we have already seen what 2017 has wrought; a year marked by powerful white men being called to task for their horrific behavior shepherded by the #MeToo movement, #BlackLivesMatter continuing to matter while white people continued to be mad about it and take it out on Colin Kaepernick, and a white house that is waging an unceasing onslaught against decency and rational thought, 2017 was lets face it, kind of a dumpster fire. So I will be watching the Grammy's this year not to see who takes home the golden gramophone, but for literally everything else.
I'll be watching for SZA who I've loved for yeaaarrss, and now she's nominated for 5 awards! I'll be rooting for Cardi B, because if a girl from the projects can make it all the way to the Grammy's then a boy from the projects can have a blog about fashion and shit Ooowww. I'll be watching for Rihanna's performance, Beyonce's outfits, and more than ANYTHING camera pans into the audience for Blue Ivy. I'll be watching because for once the Grammy's has the potential to say something about a culture that speaks to my interests, rather than just profiting from it.
*Audible scream* I saw Tyler The Creator on the red carpet and I need someone to explain him to me. So like, I was at Panorama festival last year, and he was performing and the random stranger girl standing next to me looks at the screen, then at me, and then has the audacity to say I kind of resemble him. Like, she said that TO MY FACE. I was standing right there. Worse, only because that was now the SECOND time someone has likened me to The Creator. The year was 2010, the doppelgänger thing on Facebook was just getting popular, and someone who I considered a friend at the time, suggested that I should use Tyler The Creator as my look-a-like.
We're no longer friends.
Okay okaaayyy, he's like super talented, and dresses cute sometimes, but what about the collateral damage of those statements. What about me waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat considering what my future holds. He's a famous musician, of course he's going to find someone to love him. But what do I have? WHAT DO I HAVE HUH?
Im ready to fight.
- Jonathan Bell