Grammys surpasses award shows in diverse artist recognition

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Singers Luis Fonsi (L) and Daddy Yankee (R) perform during the Billboard Latin Music Awards at the Warsco Center of Miami University in Coral Gables, Florida, on April 27.

By Isaiah Reynolds , Columnist

The Recording Academy defines the Grammys as “the only peer-presented award to honor artistic achievement, technical proficiency and overall excellence in the recording industry, without regard to album sales or chart position.”  

With heavy controversy in the past years surrounding other awards shows and their tendencies to exclude many diverse bodies of work in nominations, this year’s Grammy nominees are some of the most diverse ever. They’re no #OscarsSoWhite.

The Album of the Year category has no white male nominees for the first time since 1999. Also, the vastly popular hit “Despacito” by Daddy Yankee and Luis Fonsi is the first song sung mostly in Spanish to peak at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 since “Macarena” in 1996. 

Randy Lewis of the Los Angeles Times suggests the influx of  the “number of artists of color and women may be a response to the current political climate in which many in those groups feel both threatened and moved to speak out.” The Recording Academy’s recognition vindicates many of these artists’ efforts to effectively assert their presence and experience in an environment that would otherwise ignore them.

Encapsulating a wide range of different artists, the upcoming Grammys acknowledged some of the most well-deserved and distinctive hip-hop and rhythm and blues artists and music from the past year.

Best New Artist nominee SZA’s “Ctrl” establishes a new and unique sound that was unheard of within mainstream music. Both “Flower Boy” and “Awaken, My Love!” almost entirely redefine the expectations from Tyler the Creator and Childish Gambino, respectively. “Awaken, My Love!” plays on 1960s funk and the use of countless other genres makes it well worth its nomination. The provocative “4:44” not only showcases Jay-Z’s mastery in music production, but the topics addressed are of both societal and individual significance.

Although some victims of overplay have killed most of my personal interest, including Kendrick Lamar’s “HUMBLE.,” Childish Gambino’s “Redbone” and anything from Bruno Mars, I fully intend to continue to listen to some of the most trending songs of the year well into retirement. These arguably timeless classics include GoldLink’s “Crew,”  Migos’ “Bad and Boujee” and Daniel Caesar featuring Kali Uchis’ “Get You.”

The increased recognition of these works acts as an invitation for more individuals to share their stories and feel welcomed despite the cultural climate. The significance of recognizing these bodies of work and all those who contribute to them lays the foundation for a greater range of creative forms of expression and a much more colorful future in music.

Isaiah is a sophomore in Media.

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