In this, the year of our Beyoncé 2019, there can only be one true winner on Grammys night: the one who sparks a torrent of timeline-clogging memes. And so, the unambiguous winner of this year’s Grammy Awards is none other than Will Smith, whose head-scratching appearance as the blue, shirtless, bejeweled, ponytailed genie in Aladdin melted our minds (our hearts, not so much).
I’m kidding (sort of), but it is ironic that Smith of all people garnered the most notices online. Thirty years ago, the Fresh Prince and DJ Jazzy Jeff famously boycotted the 1989 Grammys, refusing to accept their “best rap performance” award upon discovering that the new category would not be aired. It marked one of the first of many, many slights against rap music by those behind “music’s biggest night,” with only two “rap” albums receiving the coveted Album of the Year trophy since: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill in 1999 and Outkast’s Speakerboxxx/The Love Below in 2004, both eclectic efforts containing mainstream pop hits.
As our Stereo Williams wrote, “It indicates that hip-hop has to be tempered with something that voters and audiences find more ‘respectable’ before it can be put on an elevated tier.”
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