Having handed over its already pretentious arts pages wholly to ethnic and gender-based virtue signaling, the New York Times certainly wasn’t going to let the racially charged Grammys pass without commentary under the guise of music criticism. Jon Caramanica celebrated an onstage rappers' revolt while slamming Adele for beating Beyonce for album of the year, in “Dealing With #GrammysSoWhite.”
Before the rapper Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest shouted “Resist! Resist! Resist!” at the top of his lungs at the Grammy Awards; before Busta Rhymes called Donald J. Trump “President Agent Orange” and referenced his “unsuccessful attempt at the Muslim ban”; before Tribe and Anderson .Paak kicked their way through an oversize wall and brought dozens of people of a wide range of nationalities onstage (along with a dance troupe that recalled Public Enemy’s quasi-military S1Ws), Q-Tip introduced his group’s performance with some words of encouragement and defiance:
“We’d like to say to all of those people around the world, all of those people who are pushing people who are in power to represent them: Tonight, we represent you.”
....Simply put, the Grammys, like America, have an inclusion problem -- or more to the point, an exclusion problem. The 59th annual installment of the ceremony, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday night, was as noteworthy for who won as who didn’t, for who attended as for who opted to sit out. It was a show about borders -- who is allowed to cross, who isn’t and who doesn’t even bother trying.
There was the obligatory slam at Grammy winner Adele, whose album 25 has sold some 20 million copies worldwide and was named #2 album of 2015 by Rolling Stone -- but who unfortunately is not Beyonce:
Adele won all five Grammys she was nominated for, including album of the year (for “25”), record of the year and song of the year (for “Hello”), besting Beyoncé in all three categories. “25” is Adele’s least impressive album, but its pomp-and-circumstance soul belting is the sort of classicism likely to appeal to the Recording Academy voting members, who tend to skew older and more traditional. Beyoncé’s album “Lemonade” (and the song “Formation,” nominated in the other two categories) is musically provocative and wide ranging, and rife with commentary about the meaning of blackness in the United States.
At the end of the night, when Adele won album of the year, she deferred to Beyoncé: “The way that you make me and my friends feel, the way you make my black friends feel, is empowering,” Adele told her from the stage, while behind her, a huge gaggle of predominantly white male songwriters and producers clapped enthusiastically.
In that moment, just a few feet separated Adele and Beyoncé, but the chasm between their treatment by the Grammys was huge, and potentially unbridgeable. It was #GrammysSoWhite come to life. For years, Kanye West has complained about how black artists -- himself, but also others -- are mistreated in the main Grammy categories. This year, Frank Ocean, fatigued with the Grammys’ handling of black music, opted to not even submit his music for consideration. (The other big all-genre category, best new artist, was won by a black artist, Chance the Rapper.)
So a black artist won in a big category, but it gets relegated to parentheses for the sake of the NYT’s “race problem” narrative:
The Grammys’ race problem is so pernicious that some white winners have chosen contrition over exuberance -- Adele’s embrace of Beyoncé, Macklemore’s apology to Kendrick Lamar in 2014 (Macklemore reportedly did not submit his most recent album for consideration this year) -- demonstrating a greater understanding of the fundamental imbalance of the Grammys system than the Grammys themselves.
It's not like Beyonce doesn’t have any Grammy awards.
Honoring Beyoncé in categories devoted to black music goes part of the way to fulfilling that vision, but it’s where she’s not honored that feels more pointed: She has won 22 times, but only four of those awards have been in all-genre categories. (She has lost album of the year three times, to Beck, Taylor Swift and Adele.)
Caramanica, a hip-hop fan, also attacked a pre-Inaugural concert for Donald Trump as "jingoism and vaudevillian fluff.”
Joe Coscarelli fanned the Grammy flames on the same page with a conspiracy theory, “Was Beyonce Robbed of Best Album?” (Because the music industry and pop culture in general is really out to make Beyonce look bad, isn't it?)
Like his colleague, Coscarelli also rudely bashed "white" Adele as an easy way to beef up of his p.c. bona fides.
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Before the 59th annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, the music industry murmured about what it might mean for Adele to once again sweep the top awards, leaving Beyoncé snubbed in the major categories and with her third loss for album of the year. Having long faced accusations that the Grammys overlook young, progressive black artists -- the last black woman to win album of the year was Lauryn Hill in 1999 -- the Recording Academy faced a potential backlash for going all-in on a white, traditionalist choice like Adele.
Coscarelli’s conspiracy theme required him to downplay what actually happened on stage.
This year’s show was not entirely homogeneous. In addition to a Prince tribute and exemplary performances by Beyoncé and A Tribe Called Quest, Chance the Rapper won three awards, including best new artist, for what was essentially an online mixtape.
But the broader pattern was hard to ignore. In the last five years especially, albums by Mr. Ocean, Mr. Lamar and Beyoncé have been passed over for the top award in favor of releases by white artists: Mumford & Sons, Daft Punk, Beck, Taylor Swift and Adele. Though Beyoncé has 62 nominations and 22 wins overall, most have come in the designated R&B categories, with only one in the big three of record, song or album of the year....
Again, it doesn’t really sound like anyone is out to deprive Beyonce of awards.