by Dom Jones
This year is especially exciting for the Grammy Awards because, while it’s normally held in Los Angeles, this year it is returning to New York City! That means, if you’re a member of Grammy U, you had an opportunity to apply to volunteer or even be a seat filler at music’s biggest award ceremony. Music may be a unifying force, but Grammy nominations are always a divisive thing. Everyone thinks that their favorite artist should be nominated (and, of course, win) and the artist that they can’t stand shouldn’t even be nominated. It’s at least a fun argument to have every year, engaging in banter over who had the best and most worthy music. Below, I talk about some of my most and least favored nominations, so check it out:
RECORD OF THE YEAR: CHILDISH GAMBINO – “Redbone” | LOVE IT!
I wasn’t a huge Gambino fan until this record (in the similar way that I think Mos Def’s “The New Danger” is sorely underrated, but I digress). Gambino pays homage to traditional soul and funk in a way that feels much more authentic to me than Bruno Mars. For that reason, I hope Childish Gambino wins, but we all know it’s probably between Bruno and Jay-Z, which is a shame. Out of all of the nominations in this category, this is my favorite song.
ALBUM OF THE YEAR: JAY-Z – “4:44: | LOVE IT!
I don’t necessarily love this album for the content… Jay’s spitting was arguably lazy on this album, so musically I don’t consider it his best work. Culturally, though? It’s kind of genius, and for that reason, I’d give it album of the year over the other nominations. Whether or not Beyonce` was accusing him of infidelity on Lemonade and whether or not he was admitting to it on this album, the way they’ve both been able to artistically leverage their relationship to get the masses to buy into the narratives that each of their albums articulated (while throwing in some social justice/cooperative economics hype at the same time) makes it clear why they are pop music’s current first couple.
SONG OF THE YEAR: JUSTIN BIEBER FT. LUIS FONSI & DADDY YANKEE – “Despacito” | HATE IT!
The way Justin Bieber disrespected Latin culture and people thoroughly is just lame. He didn’t learn the words to this song, and his replacement was downright wrong. I don’t know why people keep giving this guy more chances to be a good person, when he routinely behaves in ways that prove he’s kind of a jerk. Boy, bye!
BEST NEW ARTIST: SZA | HATE IT!
I don’t care, I don’t care, I don’t care! I know many of you reading this love the heck out of SZA, but I just can’t get behind this whole narrative that being the other woman is en vogue. NO. Beyond that, listening to her music is like listening to one long song… they all sound the same, there’s no melodic creativity, the content is bland, the cadences just copy trap music, and I’m not impressed. Though I dislike Lil Uzi Vert more, he’s likely more of a fleeting artist, but the way people are propping up SZA, she could be here watering down R&B for years to come, and I just can’t accept that.
BEST TRADITIONAL R&B PERFORMANCE: MALI MUSIC – “Still” | LOVE IT!
Mali is steady. He’s consistent. He was smart in his transition from gospel to R&B, and kept remnants of the former in his newer sound. “Still” is a great example of that, as it almost sounds like a hymn. It’s awesome to see him get some shine, and though he’s up against some big hitters like Ledisi and Anthony Hamilton, I’m hoping that he pulls it out.
BEST R&B ALBUM: MUSIQ SOULCHILD – “Feel The Real” | HATE IT!
This is the first album in the HISTORY of Musiq Soulchild albums that I haven’t liked, and I think it’s for two main reasons. The first reason is that it’s a double album for no reason! Typically, Musiq’s albums have maybe one or two songs that I’ll skip, which is a good ratio in this day and age. This double album was full of throwaway songs for me, and the release felt too close to the preceding album (Life on Earth). The second reason is that Musiq has finally acquiesced to the industry as far as aesthetics. The above single from this album has the typical ethnically ambiguous video vixen in it, when I’ve always been able to count on him for (mostly fully clothed, mostly natural haired) appreciation of the black woman, which is RARE in music in general. Too many bad songs this go round, and I was thoroughly disappointed.
BEST RAP PERFORMANCE: CARDI B – “Bodak Yellow” | HATE IT!
I literally don’t care about this stripper to riches narrative that everybody keeps trying to push on me. The fact is that Cardi B can’t rap, and anyone who thinks her rise is in anyway organic and not a systematic plot to prop up another caricature of black culture to the detriment of well… anyone listening is just plain ignorant. I feel really sad about the state of rap music. I’ll leave it at that.
BEST GOSPEL PERFORMANCE/SONG: THE WALLS GROUP – “My Life” | LOVE IT!
Over the last few years, and last year in particular, The Walls Group has breathed new life into gospel music… and it was sorely needed! Gospel music has become either too simple and ambient (all sounding like one long worship song) or waaaaay too contemporary (sounding like it should be played in the club. The Walls Group is a group of young siblings who strike the delicate balance between traditional gospel music and a more contemporary take sonically and in their writing. This allows their music to be accessible to both gospel traditionalists (my mom’s generation) and young people who this music to be exciting, danceable, and relatable. I’m certainly rooting for them to get their first Grammy!
WHO ARE YOU ROOTING FOR AT THIS YEAR’S GRAMMY AWARDS? SOUND OFF IN THE COMMENTS!