We all know The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (began in 1958), whose award was once called the Gramophone Award, which is now known as the exalted Grammy Award, never had love for hip-hop. It's history has been a checkered one in regards to hip-hop.
Flavor Flav coined it so eloquently, "Who gives a f**k about a g** damn Grammy!"
Pointblank, we felt like The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences shown itself as being another racist institution toward black folk.
However, after years of resistance throughout the 80's, Hip-Hop finally gained recognition from the Grammy's in 1989.
The lone award category allotted to Hip-Hop was the "Best Rap Performance". The Best Rap Album category didn't arrive to the Grammy's until 1996.
Best Rap Album Grammy Winners 1996-2020
The nominees chosen for the 1989 award included DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince for “Parents Just Don’t Understand”, J. J. Fad for “Supersonic”, Kool Moe Dee for “Wild Wild West”, LL Cool J for “Going Back to Cali”, and Salt-n-Pepa for “Push It”. At that time, all were considered very commercial, safe songs for the mainstream to digest.
Keep in mind these are songs from 1988 (The Golden Era), perhaps the most groundbreaking, creative, multi-faceted year of Hip-Hop. The year of '88 seen classic albums and songs dropped by Public Enemy, Run-DMC, BDP, Big Daddy Kane, Eric B & Rakim, EPMD, N.W.A, Slick Rick, Marley Marl, The Jungle Brothers, Ultramagnetic, Stetsasonic, MC Lyte, Audio Two, Ice-T, Too Short, King Tee and many others.
With Hip-Hop being called a "fad" for years and that it won't last, the hip-hop culture had finally gotten some mainstream recognition. We wanted it represented right, showing its precise lyricism, creativity and uniqueness. Not that DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince, LL Cool J, Kool Moe Dee and Salt-N-Peppa weren't dope, didn't pay their dues and weren't influential in their own right, but even they had better songs than what they were nominated for.
So within the community of Hip-Hop, the songs nominated were a disappointment by many. We felt like "THE REAL" wasn't being represented, but instead the commercial mainstream, "cream puff" songs were put on front street. But, as many have said before, something is better than nothing.
Then, aside from the songs represented, it was the disrespect of the presentation.
The award was presented during a pre-telecast ceremony to DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince by Kool Moe Dee who made a distinct statement: “On the behalf of all MCs, my co-workers and fellow nominees — Jazzy Jeff, J.J. Fad, Salt-N-Pepa and the boy who’s bad — we personify power and a drug-free mind, and we express ourselves through rhythm and rhyme. So I think it’s time that the whole world knows rap is here to stay.”
Throughout the years, not much has changed in terms of the prerequisite by The Academy for the Hip-Hop Grammy categories and nominees.
We've even created our own Awards ceremonies to celebrate our music:
NAACP Image Awards in August 13, 1967
Soul Train Awards in March 23, 1987
The Source Awards 1994
The BET Awards June 19, 2001
Vibe Awards 2003
The BET Hip-Hop Awards November 12, 2006
"Suge Knight Disses Diddy At The 1995 Source Awards"
However, with the Grammy's, it's importance, staying power and mainstream appeal and financial strength, it always seems like we (black artists) are always trying to prove we belong and to get validation from "the man", "the system", "the establishment".
Along with the fact that, if an artist won a Grammy, the mainstream, "Madison Ave" and Hollywood would open up for that artist, allowing their popularity and financial floodgates to open, well beyond their craft of music, if they so desire. See The Fresh Prince (Will Smith), LL Cool J, Queen Latifah, Jay Z, Kanye and 50 Cent, just to name a few.
Although, it has gotten better and many still feel the Grammy's don't REPRESENT us. For most, to get a Grammy is like an artist has "crossed over" to the mainstream.
Royce the 5'9 felt no different. However, for the first time I must admit, The Grammy nominees for album of the year is on the right track. The 2021 Nominees include, Nas - "King's Disease" ( A HUUUUUUUUUUGE SURPRISE.. due to it's organic sound and next to NO mainstream play), Jay Electronica - "A Written Testimony", Freddie Gibbs & The Alchemist - "Alfredo" and Royce Da 5'9 - "The Allegory", now that I thing about it, all of these albums are "organic" and received absolutely no "commercial" mainstream play.
Some may disagree with the nominations, as 50 Cent did, because his artist Pop Smoke, a commercially successful mainstream artist, who wasn't up for a nomination. Of course, everyone is not going to agree, but having a broader scope of artists represented for nominations is all we asked for. As opposed to the past, just having the mainstream, commercial appeal artists at the forefront. Could the Grammy pendulum be swinging toward the more creative, organic, lyrical artistry of Hip-Hop, or is this just an aberration? We shall see.
Click below to hear Royce the 5'9's take on the 2021 Grammy Nominees.
ItzYourz411 audio: "Royce 5'9 speaks on Grammy Nominees"
THE FULL VERSION OF THE 1995 SOURCE AWARDS SHOW