Nothing. Hip-hop has birthed it’s own renaissance in the last year, characterizing itself through prolific creation and innovation; for fans, our ears have enjoyed a string of releases which discussed societal pitfalls, social deviance, and detailed storytelling.
The Grammys paint a much different picture, however: a mash-up performance of “Turn Up the Music” by Chris Brown accompanied by David Guetta, with a disappointing Weezy verse sloppily slapped on the tail end of it is about all the Grammys had to offer. To make it even worse, Nicki Minaj was the genre’s other representative, offering a confusing, exorcist-like performance that left the audience with little desire to clap their hands.
Their was no hip-hop record up for “Record of the Year” and no hip-hop album up for “Album of the Year.” Mr. West’s “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” saved the genre from complete embarrassment though, winning “Best Rap Album” as well as competing with his hit track, “All of the Lights” on “Song of the Year” and winning “Best Rap Song.” J. Cole was also a nice break from the monotonous mold the Grammys have forced hip-hop into; “Cole World: A Sideline Story” is a fantastic story line from a rapper that fought from the very bottom of the game.
For the other mainstream hip-hop categories like “Best Rap Performance,” “Best Rap/Sung Collaboration,” and “Best Rap Song,” hip-hop was rudely misrepresented: Lupe Fiasco, Nicki Minaj, Wiz Khalifa and Chris Brown all appeared twice, and Drake, Weezy, Beyonce, Eminem, Rihanna, and Kelly Rowland all appeared once. As a fan of the art, and one who’s iPod is full of artists that triple the feeble representation at the Grammys, it’s frustrating to see such a small and uniform piece represent such a wide and dynamic spectrum.
2011 was home to releases by Big Sean, Drake, Wale, The Roots, Childish Gambino, Rockie Fresh, Kendrick Lamar, ASAP Rocky, Big K.R.I.T., Pries, and many other artists who were never or barely mentioned at the Grammys. It’s understood that this “honorable” ceremony represents mainstream artists that are promoted on cable television, radio, and push heavy album sales, but it is immensely frustrating that the few who get the chance to represent the whole do it so poorly.
The foundation of the hip-hop renaissance still holds strong, even without Grammy recognition; thank the influx of artists over the last few years who have created fresh rhymes and story lines for that. In the coming years, I believe the underground will get their chance at glory, but at least for 2012, the Grammys meant nothing for hip-hop.